The situation in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk remains extremely tense amid continued street fighting and unconfirmed reports of aerial bombardments of civilian areas, the United Nations said today.
At the daily press briefing held at UN Headquarters in New York, Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told journalists that the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) was unable to conduct humanitarian operations in the camp, which is located just outside the Syrian capital of Damascus.
Since 1 April, Yarmouk has been the scene of intense fighting between a number of armed groups, including 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.
Addressing reporters, Mr. Dujarric noted that UNRWA had called for a pause in the hostilities in order to allow humanitarian access to civilians in need of assistance and the safe evacuation of those who wish to leave Yarmouk.
In addition, he said the UN agency called for all armed groups to respect and comply with their obligations to ensure the protection of civilians and exercise their influence on the parties on the ground to bring this about.