Thousands of aid parcels distributed in besieged Yarmouk camp
Published Saturday 01/02/2014 (updated) 02/02/2014 23:33
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Aid distribution in the besieged Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus continued for the third day in a row on Saturday, as UNRWA passed out hundreds of food parcels and PLO officials reported thousands more had been given out the day before.
Spokesperson for the UN's Palestine refugee agency UNRWA Chris Gunness told Ma'an on Saturday that UNRWA workers on the ground had managed to distribute "480 food parcels (on that day), bringing to 2,624 the total number of food parcels we have distributed since UNRWA gained access to the camp on 18th January."
"It is important to note that an UNRWA food parcel will feed a family of between five and eight people for ten days. There are approximately eighteen thousand Palestinians in the camp that remain from a pre-conflict population of about 160,000. It is estimated that there are non-Palestinian civilians also trapped in Yarmouk," he added.
Although Gunness acknowledged that all parties in the conflict were facilitating the delivery of aid into Yarmouk, he said that "UNRWA has called repeatedly for substantial, secure and permanent access for all civilians living in the camp" amid reports of "widespread malnutrition and women dying in childbirth for lack of medical services."
"The continuing delivery of humanitarian assistance in Yarmouk demonstrates that this is possible in other areas where civilians are trapped and besieged," he added.
Meanwhile, a PLO official said in a statement received by Ma'an on Saturday that more than 2000 food parcels has entered the besieged camp on Friday.
Chief of the politburo of the Palestine Liberation Organization Anwar Abd al-Hadi said in a statement received by Ma'an on Saturday that 2129 food parcels weighing 30 kilograms each entered the camp.
Abd al-Hadi highlighted that the food aid was sent and distributed following coordination between Syrian officials and PLO officials.
He added that 163 patients were also evacuated to hospitals and medical centers outside the camp.
University students, added Abd al-Hadi, will be allowed to leave the camp on Saturday.
After rebels seized control of Yarmouk in December 2012, the camp became embroiled in the armed fighting taking place across Syria and came under heavy regime assault.
Regime forces eventually encircled the camp and in July imposed a siege on the camp, leading to a rapid deterioration of living conditions.
Thousands have fled the camp, while the remaining residents -- who are estimated to number around 18,000 -- have faced extremely severe conditions in recent months, with reports that dozens have starved to death.
In recent weeks, however, international organizations have managed to negotiate temporary ceasefires to allow for the distribution of food and aid in the camp.