UN agency warns about condition of Palestinian refugees

United Nations : Unable for more than a month now to deliver food and other supplies to Palestinians trapped in a refugee camp near Damascus, the UN agency tasked with ensuring their well-being has sought resumption of its humanitarian activities on an urgent basis.

“UNRWA’s (UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) distribution of food to civilian families in Yarmouk last took place May 23. The most recent distribution of hygiene kits was June 7,” Chris Gunness, spokesperson for the UNRWA, said in a news release Monday.

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“This lengthy break in food distribution is of great concern to UNRWA, as it raises the likelihood of civilians going hungry in Yarmouk,” he said, highlighting the difficulties the agency has had trying to reach the more than 18,000 refugees following reports that a ceasefire had been reached in the camp June 21 between Syrian authorities and armed groups.

Gunness said civilian residents of Yarmouk continue to contend with grave humanitarian conditions.

“UNRWA is urgently seeking a resumption of its humanitarian activities inside Yarmouk and is appealing to the parties to the June 21 agreement to make this resumption possible.”

Prior to the start of the Syrian conflict in March 2011, Yarmouk, in a Damascus suburb, was home to over 160,000 Palestine refugees.

Since December 2012, fighting has caused at least 140,000 of them to flee their homes as armed opposition groups established a presence in the area, with government forces controlling the periphery.