The United Nations agency tasked with the ensuring the well-being of Palestinian refugees is appealing for $30 million to carry out life-sustaining assistance to 18,000 civilians from besieged Yarmouk refugee camp, including 3,500 children.
Over the past days, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has significantly expanded its response in areas neighbouring Yarmouk, on the southern edge of Damascus, where civilians have sought shelter amid a deteriorating security situation since armed groups began fighting in and around the camp.
“This remains a volatile, rapidly changing environment of armed conflict and we must be prepared to respond to those in need, wherever they are,” said Michael Kingsley-Nyinah, UNRWA Director in Syria, in a statement to the media.
The appeal for $30 million is part of the UNRWA Syria Crisis Appeal, which provides humanitarian support to 480,000 Palestine refugees throughout Syria and to those displaced to Lebanon and Jordan. The funds for Yarmouk are for an initial 90-day response.
Yesterday, UNRWA distributed supplies to Yalda, an area the Agency previously had not had presence, but which now temporarily hosts hundreds of families displaced from Yarmouk. The agency also plans to expand its operations to the neighbouring areas of Babila and Beit Saham in the coming days.
In the meantime, UNRWA staff has established a mobile health point, treating over 400 patients over the last few days and delivered humanitarian materials to families, including food, medical supplies, water purification treatments, mattresses, blankets, family kitchen sets and hygiene kits.
“The cooperation with a wide range of partners, including local leaders and the Syrian authorities, has been constructive,” Mr. Kingsley-Nyinah said. “But the agency cannot fully respond to this escalation without a major increase in funding.”
The situation in Yarmouk “characterizes the severe suffering of civilians” trapped in the Syria conflict, and the particular vulnerability of Palestine refugees, he added.
Cut off from the world for almost two years, people in the Yarmouk refugee camp remain deprived of food, water, and subjected to frequent eruptions of armed violence. That camp is, unfortunately, not the only crisis facing Palestine refugees in Syria, UNRWA stresses.
There are currently some 480,000 Palestine refugees in Syria in need of assistance.