THE CRISIS IN YARMOUK CAMP
UNRWA remains deeply concerned about the desperate humanitarian situation in Yarmouk and the fact that increasing tensions and resort to armed force have disrupted its efforts to alleviate the desperate plight of civilians. UNRWA demands that all parties cease hostilities and seek to resolve their differences exclusively by peaceful means. UNRWA also urges all concerned parties to immediately allow and facilitate the resumption of food distribution to civilians inside Yarmouk. UNRWA further demands that continuous, substantial and safe humanitarian access will follow.
18 MARCH 2014
Our spokesperson Chris Gunness has the following to say on the situation in Yarmouk Camp
"After a break of more than two weeks, UNRWA was able to resume its food distributions to the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus today. UNRWA distribution teams reached Bateekhah Square in northern Yarmouk at 10:15 this morning and started work at the distribution point at 12:25 with the facilitation of the Syrian authorities. We finished at 17:35 having distributed 465 food parcels in addition to bread and jam. We aim to distribute tomorrow if the security situation allows. We also delivered today through the Palestinian Red Crescent Society 2,000 doses of polio vaccines and 800 small cartons of baby formula milk.
Since 18th January UNRWA has delivered 8,173 food parcels to Yarmouk where there are an estimated 18,000 Palestinians and several thousand ordinary Syrian civilians. One food parcel provides a family of between 5 to 8 people with a very basic food intake for 10 days. Although food parcels reached relatively few of the families currently residing in Yarmouk, today's distribution, following two weeks of renewed tension and heavy armed clashes, gave the beleagured civilians of Yarmouk a glimmer of hope that UNRWA's humanitarian work will be allowed to resume and to continue with no further interruptions.
Set against the substantial civilian needs and the protracted closure of Yarmouk, the modest supplies we have taken in are not enough. We require secure, substantial and sustained humanitarian access as the Security Council has unanimously requested, and call on all concerned parties to ensure the establishment and maintenance of conditions that facilitate full access to Yarmouk.
This news comes on the day that UNRWA launched the final part of its “Thunderclap” social media campaign for humanitarian access to Yarmouk and all civilian areas of Syria. We aimed to reach 23 million, the pre-war population of Syria, which we achieved. As a result, the iconic image of thousands of people waiting for food in Yarmouk (attached) will appear on the massive “Jumbotron” electronic billboard in New York’s Times Square. It will appear for five minutes from 7 30 pm to 7 35 pm and from 8 30 pm to 8 35 pm local time on Thursday 20th March. The image on the Jumbotron sends a powerful signal to the world diplomatic community just down the road at the UN that humanitarian access is urgent and must be sustained. It also sends a message of solidarity to the people of Yarmouk and all civilians in Syria that their plight is not forgotten.