No relief for Yarmouk's refugees

April 20, 2014
Sarah Benton

Sandwiched between a list of some of the charities – though no Jewish ones – making emergency appeals for people in Syria, especially the children, and links to previous postings on Yarmouk camp are UNRWA’s latest stark warning of impending starvation in Yarmouk refugee camp, a report from the Independent on the same issue, and one from Al Arabiya on the efforts of UK celebrities to get the UN to create ‘safe havens’, especially for the Palestinian refugees.

Desperate crowd awaits relief aid at Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus. Photo: UNRWA

JfJfP Exec statement on Yarmouk (25 April 2014)

“The 20,000 Palestinians in Yarmouk refugee camp are reduced to eating grass, animal feed and shoe leather. With all aid blocked, they are literally starving to death. Yarmouk has become a concentration camp. We call on the British government and all other Security Council members to ensure that the UN has the backing and resolve to immediately provide humanitarian access to Yarmouk and bring this horror to an end. If those with the power to act do nothing, then they all become complicit in the starvation.”

Save the children Syria crisis appeal

● British Red Cross Syria Crisis Appeal

● Islamic Relief Syria crisis appeal, Three years of brutal conflict in Syria / Latest update
28 March 2014: As the world marks the third anniversary of Syria’s brutal conflict, Islamic Relief has renewed its emergency appeal.

Disasters Emergency Committee Syria crisis appeal

● UNHCR A Lost Generation – Children of Syria, Emergency Appeal: For three years, too many innocent people in Syria have suffered – above all the children of Syria

● War Child: Over one million children  fled Syria as refugees. They’re too young to understand what’s happening. But they’re old enough to be traumatised by every horrific thing they’ve seen.

Please help us take care of them in one of War Child’s ‘Safe Spaces’ – a haven away from the violence. Somewhere they can feel protected and cared for, where they can just be children and play.

● Christian Aid Syria Emergency Appeal

Yarmouk Emergency Appeal

From Syria Relief, UK-based charity set up by Syrians in UK

Food Aid (Yarmouk Camp) £100
Medical Aid (Yarmouk Camp) £50

The Syrian regime has laid siege to the refugee camp, Al-Yarmouk, in Damascus and thousands are at risk of starvation. Reports have said that people at the camp have been forced to live on a diet of leaves, water with salt and animal food for months, leading to a widespread incidence of malnutrition. Women have been shot at by snipers as they have tried to gather leaves, in desperation, to feed their children.

The lack of electricity at the camp has also affected the single hospital there, which is also running out of supplies. Reports have suggested that this has led to several women dying in childbirth. The camp has also not been able to receive vaccines for polio which poses a severe risk.

Syria Relief is running an emergency appeal to be able to supply urgent food and medical supplies as soon as possible.

Please support us by donating. Syria needs us now more than ever.

For more information about what is happening at Al-Yarmouk please see: Innocent, starving, close to death: One victim of the siege that shames Syria

Syria: UN agency warns no food left in besieged Palestinian refugee camp

UN news centre
April 19, 2014

The United Nations has renewed its demand for unimpeded humanitarian access to the besieged Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, warning that there is no UN food aid left there as of Saturday given that the recent escalation fighting between the parties to the Syrian conflict has prevented the delivery of desperately needed assistance.

Spokesman Chris Gunness said the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was not authorised to distribute food aid on 18 April in Yarmouk, where more than 20,000 civilians are dependent on UN assistance.

“This is the tenth consecutive day that UNRWA has been unable to distribute food assistance inside Yarmouk. Given that an UNRWA food parcel lasts for a maximum of 10 days, from tomorrow there will be no UN food in the camp,” he said yesterday.

Prior to the armed conflict in Syria, which began in March 2011, Yarmouk was home to over 160,000 Palestine refugees. Since December 2012, fighting has caused at least 140,000 Palestine refugees to flee their homes in Yarmouk, as armed opposition groups established a presence in the area, with Government forces controlling the periphery.

“UNRWA remains deeply concerned about the desperate humanitarian situation in Yarmouk,” said Mr. Gunness, noting that the repeated resort to armed force has, over the previous month, repeatedly disrupted efforts to alleviate the plight of trapped civilians.

As a result, UNRWA was able to access Yarmouk on only 10 days over the 30-day period between 11 March and 10 April, distributing only 3,390 food parcels.

“UNRWA demands that all parties cease hostilities and seek to resolve their differences exclusively by peaceful means. UNRWA also demands that continuous, substantial and safe humanitarian access is ensured,” Mr. Gunness stated.

UN warns 20,000 could starve in Syria’s blockaded camp

Situation in Yarmouk is ‘beyond desperate’

By Adam Lusher, The Independent
April 20, 2014

The United Nations last night warned that more than 20,000 civilians are in imminent danger of starving to death in a Palestinian refugee camp that has become a key battleground in the Syrian civil war.

The looming humanitarian crisis in Yarmouk, on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus, was described as “beyond desperate” by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees.

A fragile agreement between the warring factions to allow food into the camp has broken down, and for 10 days no food has been allowed through a government blockade of the area, the scene of fierce fighting between the Syrian Army and rebels.

chris gunness-2011
“We are saying to the Syrian government we want immediate humanitarian access to tend to the sick, to tend to the dying and to get our programmes up and running.”UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness being interviewed on the plight of refugees in Syria in 2011.

Chris Gunness, of UNRWA, said yesterday: “This is the 10th consecutive day that UNRWA has been unable to distribute food assistance. Given that a food parcel lasts for a maximum of 10 days, from tomorrow there will be no UN food in the camp.

“Even before this there were reports of deaths from starvation, mothers feeding their children with grass and spices picked up from the street. The situation in Yarmouk was already desperate. Now it is beyond desperate.”

Until the outbreak of war in Syria, Yarmouk was a thriving haven for as many as 250,000 Palestinian refugees living alongside thousands of Syrians. But in December 2012 the area was infiltrated by rebel groups, who were branded “terrorists” by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Civilians who could not escape found themselves trapped as a Syrian army bombardment reduced most buildings to rubble. In July 2013, government forces succeeded in imposing a tight blockade around the district. It wasn’t until January this year that a fragile agreement was brokered between all warring factions to allow in food.

Mr Gunness said even before the deal’s breakdown, the situation had been critical for some 18,000 Palestinians and more than 2,000 Syrian civilians trapped in Yarmouk. He said: “Only about 100 food parcels a day were getting through; 700 were needed.

“UNRWA is deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis in a capital city of a UN member state, in the 21st century, as a result of direct political choice.”

Celebrities petition the U.N. for civilian safety in Syria

By AFP/ Al Arabiya
March 16, 2014

Some 30 celebrities have petitioned the U.N. demanding they take action to protect civilians, notably Palestinian refugees, caught up in the Syria conflict as it entered its fourth year on Saturday.

Stars including Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Sting, Roger Waters and Tracey Emin were among those calling on the United Nations Security Council and presidents of the General Assembly to create safe spaces and local ceasefires to allow emergency supplies to reach besieged people.

The letter — signed chiefly by British figures from the world of film, literature, acting, music and visual arts — is endorsed by the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA, and the HOPING charity which supports Palestinian refugee children.

Nearly 500,000 Palestinians were registered as refugees in Syria before the civil war. UNRWA has said the majority of them are displaced from their normal homes.

Most of the 170,000 residents in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus residents have fled, but nearly 40,000 remain trapped inside, living in abject conditions.

The celebrities asked the U.N. bodies “to tell us how they will create safe spaces and local ceasefires with immediate effect.
“People and relief must be let through. We want our voices to carry, on behalf of those now suffering in Syria, in order to prevent any more tragedy.”

Among the celebrity signatories were musicians Bryan Adams, Peter Gabriel and Annie Lennox; artists Tracey Emin, Carsten Hoeller and Jeremy Deller.

They also included film directors Alfonso Cuaron, Ken Loach and Stephen Frears; and writer Hanif Kureishi.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said: “It is now exactly two weeks since our last delivery of humanitarian aid to Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus. The situation there is desperate, so this appeal is timely and urgent.

“The people of Yarmouk and civilians across Syria urgently need these U.N. bodies to heed the call of these celebrities.
“We are getting continued reports of widespread malnutrition, particularly among children, of women dying in childbirth for lack of medical care and people reduced to eating animal feed.”

Syria’s civil war enters a fourth year on Saturday, with at least 146,000 people dead, millions more homeless, cities and historical treasures in ruins, the economy devastated and no end in sight.


Assad forces fire shells and rockets into Palestinian refugee camp, December 2012

Palestinian refugees unseen victims of Syrian and Israeli wars April 2013

The rejected: Syrian war forces Palestinians into overcrowded camps May 2013

Palestinians left alone amidst war of words august 2013

Palestinians divided over Syria but unite against western intervention august 2013

Palestinians in Syria dying of starvation December 2013

Speaking of the refugees January 2014

Starvation – a simpler weapon of war in Syria  January 2014

Expendable refugees in camp desolation February 2014

Protests about Yarmouk starvation spread across Palestine, Jordan January 2014

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