UNRWA distributes more aid in Damascus, calls for increased support

Julie Webb-Pullman

UNRWA carries out a third day of food parcel distribution, Yalda, 15 February, 2016 ©unrwa.org

UNRWA carries out a third day of food parcel distribution, Yalda, 15 February, 2016 ©unrwa.org

As armed violence continues to threaten the lives and safety of Palestine refugees throughout Syria, UNRWA is again appealing to donors to increase their support to the UNRWA Syria Emergency Appeal. More than 95% of Palestine refugees in Syria now rely on UNRWA to meet their daily needs of food, water and healthcare.

Although UNRWA was able to distribute food to besieged and hard to reach civilian populations in Damascus yesterday, a Yarmouk resident said, “The children get sick very frequently from the water. We don’t just need food, we need hospitals and water and electricity.”

The community told UNRWA that apart from food, their greatest needs include winter blankets and clothing, access to clean water and access to healthcare.

Half of the needy population in the area has so far been reached, with 3,300 families receiving food parcels since UNRWA resumed humanitarian operations this week; 1,200 families from Yalda, Babila, Beit Saham and Yarmouk received a 35kg food parcel containing a range of basic commodities.

However access to water remains restricted in Yarmouk, with residents relying on untreated water from wells for their daily needs, resulting in increased health risks for the community.

Announcing that food distribution will continue on Tuesday 16 February and Wednesday 17 February, UNRWA Spokesperson, Chris Gunness said, “After this, UNRWA will begin distribution of winter blankets and establish mobile health points.”

Not only increased donations, but also increased access, are essential to ensure UNRWA’s efforts to alleviate the humanitarian crisis can continue, particularly access to clean water.

“UNRWA continues to coordinate closely with other humanitarian partners and hopes this renewed access, facilitated by the Syrian authorities, will lead to sustained operations in the area,” Gunness said.