Press Release

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“UNRWA today was able to deliver urgently needed humanitarian supplies to the civilian residents of the besieged refugee camp of Yarmouk, Damascus for the first time in nine months,” UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness said on Saturday.

“The camp was taken over by the ISIS group on 1 April last year. Although we did not enter the camp itself, were able to reach the nearby area of Yalda, where nine hundred families from Yarmouk, Yalda and the neighbouring areas of Babila and Beit Saham were provided with a 35kg food parcel. Although some humanitarian assistance has entered these areas since the last UNRWA distribution in June, 2015, humanitarian needs remain acute.”

He continued that there are clear indications that disease is on the rise, particularly among the most vulnerable such as children, adding that there is an acute lack of medicines to treat them.

“The community indicated that food, non-food items, particularly winter blankets and clothing, but also water, sanitation and healthcare items were the greatest priorities,” he said.

UNRWA plans to continue distribution operations on Monday, 14 February, aiming to provide 6,000 families with food parcels by the end of the week. The following week, UNRWA hopes to distribute winter blankets, hygiene kits, water purification tablets and establish mobile health points.

Gunness noted that UNRWA is coordinating closely with other humanitarian partners and hopes this renewed access, facilitated by the Syrian authorities, will lead to sustained operations in the area.

“As armed violence continues to threaten the lives and safety of Palestine refugees throughout Syria, UNRWA appeals for donors to increase their support to the UNRWA Syria Emergency Appeal. More than 95% of Palestine refugees now rely on UNRWA to meet their daily needs of food, water and healthcare,” he said.

One resident from Yarmouk said: “We are so tired; we just want things to be calm again.”

Another told UNRWA aid workers: “People are getting sick all the time, especially the kids with hepatitis. We do not have the health services here to treat them.”

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(Photos: UNRWA.org)