Civilians in Yarmouk facing starvation and dehydration, UNRWA deplores inhumane deprivation

UNRWA Spokesperson, Chris Gunness
Press Statement

Palestinian refugees living in active conflict areas in Syria such as Yarmouk, Khan Eshieh and the Dera’a surroundings, face brutal hardships. Photo: UNRWA/Taghrid Mohammed

Palestinian refugees living in active conflict areas in Syria such as Yarmouk, Khan Eshieh and the Dera’a surroundings, face brutal hardships. Photo: UNRWA/Taghrid Mohammed

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is greatly alarmed and concerned by the desperate humanitarian consequences being inflicted on civilians since 6 April as a result of armed conflict between extremist armed groups inside Yarmouk, Damascus.

The fighting has been intense, and is taking place in the most densely populated areas of Yarmouk, with the use of heavy weapons, explosive devices and weapons of indiscriminate effect. The impact on civilian life has been devastating.

UNRWA is particularly distressed by reports of several civilian fatalities and injuries, and the Agency’s thoughts are with the bereaved and affected families. Without humanitarian access to the camp, it is impossible to be precise about numbers of fatalities and injuries.

Credible reports from inside Yarmouk indicate extensive, deliberate fire-damage to homes and other civilian buildings on a scale hardly seen before. The precarious security situation also prevents UNRWA from continuing its humanitarian missions to the adjacent area of Yalda.

Inside Yarmouk, we estimate that up to 10,000 civilians are trapped in their homes, where they are hunkered down to avoid being hit by bullets and shrapnel. Whatever supplies of food and water they had have long been exhausted. Given the frequently intense fighting, the overwhelming risk of serious injury and death prevents civilians from leaving their homes to search for food, fetch water, or seek medical treatment for injuries.

Civilians in Yarmouk are facing starvation and dehydration alongside the heightened risks of serious injury and death from the armed conflict. With the fighting now in its tenth day, civilians are enduring yet another extraordinary episode of deep trauma and abject suffering amidst a sharp escalation of humanitarian need in Yarmouk.

UNRWA strongly deplores the inhumane deprivation currently imposed on civilians in Yarmouk. The Agency calls on the individuals and entities involved to cease hostilities, to comply with the obligations under international humanitarian law to which they are subject, and to respect and protect the lives of civilians in Yarmouk. An immediate end to the fighting is imperative to avert further appalling suffering among civilians in Yarmouk.

UNRWA is anxiously monitoring the situation and will maintain in the strongest terms its demands for the safety and protection of civilians in Yarmouk. UNRWA stands ready to resume – as soon as it is safe to do so – its humanitarian missions to support civilians in the Yarmouk-Yalda area.