Besieged, Besieged … Besieged Everywhere


Human Wrongs Watch

The United Nations agency concerned with the well-being of Palestinian refugees is undertaking an urgent mission to Syria on 11 April 2015, prompted by deepening concerns for the safety and protection of thousands Palestinian and Syrian civilians at Yarmouk refugee camp overrun in recent days by militants.

A mother and child in Yarmouk, Syria. Photo: UNRWA/Taghrid Mohammad

Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), is visiting Yarmouk to get a sense of the situation in the camp, hear from refugees affected by the crisis, and consult with leaders on how to get aid to people in need.

Since 1 April, Yarmouk has been the scene of intense fighting between a number of armed groups, reportedly including elements of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), rendering it virtually impossible for civilians to leave.

Among Yarmouk’s 18,000 besieged residents are also 3,500 children, who have been reliant on UNRWA’s intermittent distributions of food and other assistance for over a year.

In some areas, interruptions of humanitarian operations have left thousands of people without aid for months.

UNRWA runs a health point in the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp when staff and supplies are allowed into the area. In the first three months of 2015, the agency provided 1,198 consultations on 13 days. Photo: UNRWA/Taghrid Mohammad

UNRWA runs a health point in the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp when staff and supplies are allowed into the area. In the first three months of 2015, the agency provided 1,198 consultations on 13 days. Photo: UNRWA/Taghrid Mohammad

During his visit, Krähenbühl will consult with the Syrian Government and discuss a peaceful solution to addressing the humanitarian consequences of the situation in the camp. He will also consult several senior UN officials on ways to get humanitarian aid to civilians.

The Commissioner-General will also visit displaced people presently accommodated in a government school building in Tadamoun. (*Source: UN).

‘Never has the hour been more desperate…’

Never has the hour been more desperate in the Palestine refugee camp of Yarmouk, in Damascus, UNRWA said on 5 April 2015.**

As the fighting intensifies, UNRWA strongly appeals to all armed actors to cease hostilities that place civilians in acute danger and to withdraw immediately from civilian populated areas.

“We demand that all parties exercise maximum restraint and abide by their obligations under international law to protect civilians. In addition, we demand humanitarian access and the establishment of secure conditions under which we can deliver life-saving humanitarian assistance and  that enable civilians to be evacuated.”

UNRWA calls on concerned states to urgently exercise their authority and influence in order to end the fighting in Yarmouk for the sake of saving civilian lives and alleviating human suffering.

Source: UNRWA

Yarmouk refugee camp. | Source: UNRWA

Since 1 April, this residential area of Damascus where some 18,000 people have already been trapped for over two years has been engulfed by intense fighting.

The lives of civilians in Yarmouk have never been more profoundly threatened. Men, women and children – Syrians and Palestinians alike – are cowering in their battered homes in profound fear, desperate for security, food and water, deeply concerned by the grave perils that may yet  come, as  hostilities  continue.

It is virtually impossible for civilians to leave Yarmouk as any attempt to move in the open brings high risk.

For over a year now, the besieged inhabitants of Yarmouk, including 3,500 children, have been reliant on UNRWA’s irregular distributions of food and other assistance.

Palestinian refugees living in active conflict areas in Syria such as Yarmouk, Khan Eshieh and the Dera’a surroundings, face brutal hardships. Photo: UNRWA/Taghrid Mohammed

Palestinian refugees living in active conflict areas in Syria such as Yarmouk, Khan Eshieh and the Dera’a surroundings, face brutal hardships. Photo: UNRWA/Taghrid Mohammed

Situation Extremely Dire

“The level of our aid has been well below the minimum required. Potable water is now unavailable inside Yarmouk and the meager health facilities that existed have been overrun by conflict.  The situation is extremely dire and threatens to deteriorate even further. UNRWA is ready to resume its assistance to the civilian population at any time but for that a cessation of hostilities is required.”

UNRWA calls on the international community including UN bodies to be seized of this critical situation without delay and to ensure that all civilians are protected in accordance with the UN charter and international law. Failure to do so could lead to the gravest and most appalling of consequences for civilians in Yarmouk. (**Source: UNRWA).

Read also:

‘To Neglect the Plight of More than 5 Million Palestinian Refugees Is a Risk that the World Cannot Take’

Becoming Refugees Once More: Palestinians from Syria Return to Gaza

More Than Half a Million Palestinians in Syria Need Priority Humanitarian Attention

‘Stop Forced Displacement of Palestinians’ – UN to Israel

UN to Israel ‘Stop Violating Palestinian Child Detainees Human Rights’

The Return of George Orwell and Big Brother’s War on Palestine, Ukraine and the Truth

‘Denying the Existence of the Palestinian People Is an ‘Article of Faith’


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