UNRWA: Suspension of aid distribution in Yarmouk to be lifted 'soon'
Published Wednesday 12/02/2014 (updated) 15/02/2014 10:34
Syrians attend the funeral of victims who reportedly died of
hunger, at the besieged Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in
southern Damascus, on Jan. 27, 2014 (Dimashqi/AFP/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The UN's Palestine refugee agency UNRWA said that they were "closely monitoring" reports that evacuations from Yarmouk had resumed, following their suspension last week after clashes erupted.
"UNRWA remains in constant contact with the authorities and is assured that the current suspension will be lifted soon, pending negotiations between government forces and groups inside Yarmouk," UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness said in a statement to Ma'an on Wednesday.
Clashes on Friday night forced UNRWA to suspend aid distribution in the besieged Damascus refugee camp, but Gunness said that the organization shares "the hopes of the civilians there that an end to the fighting will bring peace and herald a time of safe, substantial and continuous humanitarian access."
"UNRWA stands ready to immediately resume and expand the Yarmouk distribution as soon as clearance is granted," Gunness added.
Gunness said that until distribution was "temporarily suspended" on Friday, UNRWA had distributed 6,528 food parcels, 10,000 polio vaccines and "a range of other medical supplies to civilians inside the camp" since being allowed access to the camp on Jan. 18.
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, as well as the evacuation of residents.
The Syrian conflict, which began as peaceful protests in March 2011 but developed into a civil war, has killed more than 130,000 people and prompted millions to flee their homes.