THE CRISIS IN YARMOUK CAMP
07 JULY 2014
Our spokesperson Chris Gunness has the following to say on the situation in Yarmouk Camp
"There were dramatic and chaotic scenes today as UNRWA distributed food in the besieged Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus for the first time in six weeks. We were authorized to resume food distributions following an interruption stretching back to 23 May. In about two hours of action, an UNRWA team delivered food parcels, bread, jam and vitamin supplements to 209 civilian families in Yarmouk.
"The UNRWA team arrived at the northern Bateekhah entrance of Yarmouk at 11:00 hrs but was held up on account of security concerns. As the team waited at the Bateekha entrance in the north of Yarmouk, gunfire inside the camp reportedly resulted in non-life threatening injuries to two civilians. The team eventually commenced its work at 14:30 hrs at the distribution point adjacent to Rama Street inside Yarmouk.
"The distribution initially proceeded in an organized manner in spite of the large crowds of expectant civilians surging forward in the hope of receiving food assistance. The flood of people quickly became overwhelming, bringing an end to the distribution effort at 16:30 hrs. The UNRWA team persisted in the hope that order would be restored allowing more civilian families to receive help. However after making a further unsuccessful distribution attempt at 17:00 hrs, the UNRWA team withdrew, having received assurances that food distribution will continue on 8 July 2014.
"UNRWA welcomes the resumption of its food distribution inside Yarmouk. With the support and facilitation of Syrian authorities, we hope that the distribution of UNRWA food parcels will in future experience no further interruptions. This will ensure that in every working day of distributions, a significantly higher number of Yarmouk's civilians can receive the food and nutrition they desperately need so that their suffering can be alleviated.
"UNRWA as always stands ready to implement a rapid humanitarian programme to respond to the immediate and longer term needs of the civilians of Yarmouk.
"UNRWA will maintain its advocacy for continuous, substantial and safe humanitarian access to Yarmouk, and for the protection of Palestinian and Syrian civilians."