The United Nations agency tasked with the well-being of Palestine refugees today condemned the killing of four Palestinians in a camp south of the Syrian capital, Damascus, and expressed deep concern that the site faces the real risk of being turned into another camp in the area that has been devastated by years of fighting.
“We are deeply concerned about the situation of Palestine refugees in Khan Eshieh and the real risk of it becoming another Yarmouk,” said Chris Gunness, the spokesperson for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
Four Palestinians were killed on the night of 18 October as they attempted to leave the Khan Eshieh camp, to which access has been highly restricted.
Mr. Gunness said that Nofeh Mohammed Jarad, who was in her 60’s, her daughter Ibaa Saeed al-Nader, 22, their driver and a one-year old baby were all killed when their vehicle was shelled around 10 p.m. The mother of the baby, a Syrian citizen, also died in the incident.
“UNRWA condemns this attack and the killing and wounding of all civilians including Palestine refugees,” the spokesperson said, calling on those responsible to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law and demanded that the parties to the conflict do their utmost to protect civilian life in accordance with international law.
Tightened security around the area has severely reduced the ability of residents to move safely and readily access humanitarian aid and medical support, and camp residents face grave risks when attempting to leave Khan Eshieh, Mr. Gunness said.
UNRWA renews its call for full humanitarian access to Khan Eshieh to deliver emergency food, cash assistance and medicines. Access to humanitarian assistance has been constrained since 2013 and UNRWA is particularly concerned about a lack of medicines and the impact this will have on children, chronic disease patients and the elderly in Khan Eshieh.
“UNRWA calls on the parties to allow civilians, who wish to leave the area, to do so in safety,” he said.
The Khan Eshieh camp, located in a rural area south of Damascus, has experienced intensified armed conflict since 17 May 2016. This has resulted in an increasing number of civilian casualties, including at least 31 Palestine refugees killed.