Yarmouk, Syria: Humanitarian Needs Rising as Residents Flee Fighting

UNRWA is the UN agency dedicated to serving Palestinian refugees. (Photo: UNRWA)

By UNRWA – Damascus

As the Syria conflict and its impact on civilians continue to escalate, UNRWA is exerting all efforts to respond to the humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees.

Over the past several days, Syrians and the over 150,000 Palestine refugee resident in Yarmouk, a suburb of Damascus, have experienced particularly intense armed engagements involving the use of heavy weapons and aircraft. Credible reports point to civilian deaths, injuries and destruction of property in Yarmouk.

There are also waves of significant displacement as Yarmouk residents, including UNRWA staff and their families, scramble to seek safety as the armed conflict persists.

UNRWA is now housing over 2,600 displaced persons in its facilities and Damascus-area schools, and the number is growing rapidly. The Agency is working in coordination with humanitarian partners, including the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, United Nations agencies and the Danish Refugee Council to ensure that people in need have shelter, mattresses, blankets, food and other essential items.

Palestine refugees are also fleeing beyond Damascus. Although the scale and direction of this movement cannot be precisely determined, some have made their way to Lebanon. Initial reports indicate that well over 2,000 people have attempted or are attempting to enter Lebanon.

UNRWA remains gravely concerned about the safety of the Palestine refugee population in Syria and appeals to all parties to refrain from actions that endanger civilian lives and property. The Agency appreciates that the Government of Lebanon is allowing Palestine refugees from Syria to seek safety in Lebanon, and reiterates that refugees fleeing conflict must be accorded the safety and protection to which they are entitled under international law.

Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency’s General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit.

UNRWA has condemned attacks on its staff and Palestine refugees in Syria and urges an end to all hostilities in the country.

(For further information click here or contact: s.mshasha@unrwa.org)

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