Shooting at Yarmouk camp interrupts relief work: UNRWA

Ahram Online, Thursday 15 May 2014

Humanitarian access to Yarmouk refugee camp - home to nearly 150,000 Palestinians - has been impeded by ongoing violence, relief groups say

Refugees wait to receive humanitarian aid distributed by UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) at Al Yarmouk camp.(Photo:Reuters)

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) expressed its concern over a violent shooting at a Palestinian refugee camp near the Syrian capital of Damascus, saying that the incident prevented the organisation from carrying out its humanitarian work in the camp.

In a statement released on Thursday, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said that workers were unable to safely deliver food to the camp's residents in the wake of an attack on 14 May, when two government military personnel were shot within the area that UNRWA operates.

One person was killed in the shooting, with the other left critically injured.

UNRWA condemned Wednesday's shooting, which occurred in an area known to be used by its staff and other humanitarian personnel.

Yarmouk refugee camp, located on the outskirts of Damascus, has been home to nearly 150,000 Palestinian refugees since 1957.

The camp is largely in the hands of rebel forces and has been under army siege since June 2013, making it nearly impossible for food and medicine to enter or for residents to leave, according to reports from AFP.

At least 86 people have died since the siege was enforced, according to monitoring groups.

UNRWA said on Thursday that it remains "deeply concerned that recourse to armed force in Yarmouk repeatedly disrupts efforts to alleviate the plight of approximately 18,000 trapped civilians."

The violence offsets what UNRWA describes as "encouraging" progress in food distribution leading up to the attack – despite the organisation estimating that it has met only 25 percent of the camp's basic food needs since it first arrived in January of this year.

UNRWA demanded an end to hostilities and called for a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict so that humanitarian access can continue unabated.


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