The Crisis in Yarmouk Camp

Yarmouk Camp

 

 

 

UNRWA strongly urges all parties to act immediately to end the suffering of civilians in Yarmouk and the severe curtailment of humanitarian access. 


UNRWA remains deeply concerned about the desperate humanitarian situation in Yarmouk and the fact that increasing tensions and resort to armed force have disrupted its efforts to alleviate the desperate plight of civilians. UNRWA demands that all parties cease hostilities and seek to resolve their differences exclusively by peaceful means. UNRWA also urges all concerned parties to immediately allow and facilitate the resumption of food distribution to civilians inside Yarmouk. UNRWA further demands that continuous, substantial and safe humanitarian access will follow.


23 July 2014

Our spokesperson Chris Gunness has the following to say on the situation in Yarmouk Camp

"UNRWA distributed food parcels to 495 families in Yarmouk on 23 July, in addition to vitamin packs rehydration salts, lice/scabies treatments and a range of other food items.

"The UNRWA team arrived at northern Bateekhah entrance at 10:30 and was authorized to commence distribution in Yarmouk immediately. Distribution continued until 14:30, when Syrian authorities signaled an end to the distribution. UNRWA acknowledges the facilitation of the Syrian authorities in today's distribution.

"UNRWA remains deeply concerned about the desperate humanitarian situation in Yarmouk and will continue to appeal to all parties to do everything in their power to end the suffering of the over 18,000 civilians trapped there. The Agency will continue to seek from all sides conditions that enable UNRWA to offer a full range of humanitarian assistance and services inside Yarmouk on a continuous, substantial and safe basis."

Click here for other updates from our spokesperson 


Recent Highlights

A Voice from the field: From Yarmouk to Beddawi

Seeing the Impact of UNRWA Aid in the Eyes of Yarmouk Residents

Yarmouk to the World
Yarmouk camp Yarmouk camp Yarmouk camp

15 May is the International Day of Families. UNRWA is highlighting the plight of displaced and separated Palestine refugee families from Syria. Jaweher is part of such a family. She fled from Yarmouk camp in Syria to Beddawi camp in northern Lebanon, her family's second displacement since 1948. Jaweher has been separated from her children and does not know whether her husband is dead or alive. Click on the image to read her story.

In April, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) received a collection of photos from a Yarmouk camp resident who documented reactions of community members upon receiving UNRWA assistance. The photos show the importance of providing continuous support to the 18,000 individuals living in Yarmouk. Unfortunately, the Agency's efforts to meet the needs of the community are subject to regular delays and interruptions.

A social-media campaign organized by UNRWA, working with other UN agencies, NGOs and community organizations, amplified the call to "Let Us Through" to help civilians in Yarmouk and throughout Syria. The iconic image of Yarmouk residents hoping to receive humanitarian aid was broadcast at two of the world's busiest places – Tokyo's Shibuya district and New York City's Times Square.


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$34 FEEDS A FAMILY OF 5 FOR TWO WEEKS
$45 PROVIDES A FAMILY WITH A HYGIENE KIT
$100 PROVIDES A FAMILY WITH FUEL FOR A MONTH
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$200 PROVIDES A STOVE EACH FOR 4 FAMILIES

 

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Other Updates form Yarmouk

29 April 2014: Photo Gallery: UNRWA Resumes Aid Distribution in Yarmouk After 15 Days

UNRWA distributed food parcels to 300 families in Yarmouk on 24 April, the first such distribution in 15 days. UNRWA remains deeply concerned about the desperate humanitarian situation in Yarmouk and the fact that frequent disruptions of its humanitarian efforts deepen the plight of over 18,000 trapped civilians. However, the Agency hopes that this opening will be sustained and expanded in the coming days. It is particularly vital that UNRWA be permitted to increase the duration and scale of distributions in Yarmouk on a continuous, daily basis.

UNRWA urges all concerned parties to continue to facilitate and support UNRWA operations and to permit an expanded range of humanitarian assistance, particularly medical supplies, to enter Yarmouk. UNRWA stands ready to distribute in Yarmouk throughout daylight hours, seven days per week.

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7 April 2014: Support for Yarmouk from the National Beverage Company

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) accepted a contribution of US$ 100,000 from the National Beverage Company Coca-Cola/Cappy (NBC) on 31 March, specifically allocated towards supporting UNRWA relief efforts in Yarmouk camp, in Syria.

This contribution agreement was signed by the vice chairman of the NBC board, Dina Al-Masri, and the Chief of the UNRWA Partnership division, Lionello Boscardi. The signees were accompanied by the Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, Felipe Sanchez, and the General Director of NBC, Imad Al-Hindi.

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25 March 2014: Photo Gallery: Children of Yarmouk

Yarmouk was once the vibrant, bustling heart of the Palestine refugee community in Syria, home to over 160,000 Palestinians. Now, Yarmouk is devastated, its name a byword for the suffering of Palestinian and Syrian civilians caught in conflict. The camp was overwhelmed by fighting in December 2012; a months-long siege began in July 2013; and as the fourth year of conflict begins, about 20,000 civilians, the majority Palestine refugees remain - deprived of food and medicine, their clinics and schools closed, their streets and buildings damaged, their access to the outside world largely cut off.

Thirty-year-old Rami Al-Sayyed is one of those who remain in Yarmouk. A talented photographer, he has trained his lens on the suffering of those most vulnerable: the children of Yarmouk. Seventeen of these photographs were exhibited on Twitter and Instagram as an on line exhibition, 'Cry from the Heart: The Children of Yarmouk'.

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19 March 2014: UNRWA's Iconic Syria Image to go up in New York's Times Square and in Tokyo's Shibuya District

The image of crowds of Palestinians lining up for UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) food parcels, which has emerged as an icon of the Syria conflict, is to be displayed simultaneously on the massive electronic billboard in New York's Times Square and its Asian equivalent in Tokyo's Shibuya district. This follows an UNRWA-led, celebrity-backed social media campaign which reached almost double its target of 23 million, the pre-war population of Syria. As the campaign reached its climax, news emerged that after a break of more than two weeks, UNRWA was able to get into Yarmouk and distribute hundreds of food parcels to besieged civilians.

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18 March 2014: Photo Gallery: Yarmouk: 17 Days Without Food

UNRWA remains deeply concerned about the desperate situation in Yarmouk and strongly urges all concerned parties to ensure that conditions are in place to provide for the resumption of continuous, unhindered humanitarian access. Due to access difficulties, UNRWA has distributed just 7,708 food parcels since 18 January. One parcel feeds a family of five to eight people for up to ten days. Inside Yarmouk, there are 18,000 Palestinians and an unknown number of Syrian civilians. Access is critical for providing residents inside Yarmouk with the assistance that they so urgently require. The last UNRWA food distribution in Yarmouk took place on 28 February; with the distribution at the camp's Reja area halted after only an hour, due to security concerns, only 140 food parcels were distributed.

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10 March 2014: 130 Humanitarian organizations Demand Access to Civilians in Syria
The organizations Launched Campaign to Take Iconic Yarmouk Image to Times Square Billboard

The global humanitarian community has released a joint "Thunderclap" statement demanding "immediate, secure, substantial and permanent humanitarian access for all civilians in Syria, including countless children. The statement, which comes a week after the UN was last able to deliver food to Yarmouk camp in Damascus, is signed by 130 organisations, including major United Nations agencies and International Non Governmental organizations along with smaller, grassroots groups with deep reach into local communities.

The statement urges "all parties on the ground to listen to the voice of the international community as expressed unanimously through the Security Council and to act now to halt the march of death, injury, hunger and suffering." It makes a call to world leaders on the third anniversary of the start of the conflict; "Don't let the people in Syria, children and families, lose another year to bloodshed and suffering, violating the most fundamental laws of war."

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7 March 2014: #LetUs Through

On the third anniversary of Syria's pitiless conflict, we demand immediate, secure, substantial and permanent humanitarian access for all civilians, including countless children, in Syria. In the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, the parties had shown they could come together in ways that facilitate the work of humanitarian organizations. We urge all parties on the ground to listen to the voice of the international community as expressed unanimously through the Security Council and to act now to halt the march of death, injury, hunger and suffering. We say to our leaders: don't let the people in Syria, children and families, lose another year to bloodshed and suffering, violating the most fundamental laws of war. We must stand #WithSyria. We say as one: #LetUsThrough.

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3 March 2014: Support for Islamic Relief Worldwide to Yarmouk

On 26 February, Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) signed an agreement for the provision of emergency assistance, worth a total of US$ 759,000, to Palestine refugees in Yarmouk camp and other Damascus areas characterized by severe hardship. The IRW contribution will enable distribution of food aid and emergency sanitary kits to more than 70,000 people.

IRW made its generous contribution just two days after UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi visited Yarmouk, where he saw thousands and thousands of people queuing in the desperate hope of receiving food aid. The undeniable signs of deprivation and severe malnutrition among the men, women and children who had defied the threat of snipers and stray bullets to make the journey to the food distribution point at the outskirts of the camp underscored the importance of reliable and stable humanitarian access.

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28 February 2014: Photo Gallery: "Is This Acceptable?" – The Suffering of Yarmouk

After months of siege followed by tenuous and unreliable access for humanitarian agencies like UNRWA, Yarmouk camp and its thousands of residents are desperately in need of support. The sheer scale of suffering is unimaginable and almost impossible to articulate. With this food distribution on 24 February, UNRWA sought to provide a small piece of the help they need. Each parcel handed out helps, but unhindered, reliable and continuous access remains vital. The suffering of Yarmouk residents is not acceptable.

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28 February 2014: Food Distribution in Yarmouk - 31 January 2014

UNRWA has on several occasions succeeded in distributing food parcels, medicine and other supplies to the suffering and isolated civilians in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus. On Monday 24 February UNRWA's Commissioner General, Filippo Grandi entered Yarmouk camp during the resumption of UNRWA's humanitarian aid distribution. He was shocked by the condition of the Palestine refugees he spoke to and the extent of damage done to homes.

The camp, on the edge of Damascus, was once the bustling, vibrant heart of the Palestine refugee community in Syria, where 160,000 Palestinians lived in harmony with Syrians of all stripes. Over the past six months, it has become synonymous with infant malnutrition, women dying in childbirth for lack of medical care and besieged communities reduced to eating animal feed. Approximately 18,000 Palestinians and an unknown number of Syrians remain in the camp that has been reduced to rubble.

26 February 2014: Photo Gallery: A Morning in Yarmouk

Desperately needed, UNRWA humanitarian distributions in Yarmouk came to a standstill for over two weeks. Tenuous negotiations finally restored access on 24 February, bringing relief, assistance and a little bit of much-needed hope to camp residents. Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi was present and witnessed first-hand the immense suffering of Yarmouk residents.

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25 February 2014: UNRWA's Commissioner General Firmly Reiterates the Need for Unhindered Humanitarian Access after Visiting Yarmouk Camp

UNRWA's Commissioner-General, Filippo Grandi, said he was shocked by what he saw during his visit to the Yarmouk Palestine refugee camp in Syria during the resumption of UNRWA's humanitarian aid distribution yesterday. "I am deeply disturbed and shaken by what I observed today. The Palestine refugees with whom I spoke were traumatized by what they have lived through, and many were in evident need of immediate support, particularly food and medical treatment. What I have seen and heard today underlines the timeliness of the UN Security Council resolution 2139 on Humanitarian Access and the need for all sides to implement the resolution without fail," he said.

"We will not forget you, the world will not forget you" Grandi is quoted by the BBC as telling the crowd which gathered around him, telling stories about the suffering they endured in the besieged camp. "We hope to reach everyone if the people who are fighting will allow us," he assured the crowd.

Yarmouk

Watch the BBC video of the Commissioner-General's visit to Yarmouk here.

25 February 2014: Crossroads of Crisis: Yarmouk, Syria and the Palestine Refugee Predicament
LECTURE BY FILIPPO GRANDI, COMMISSIONER-GENERAL OF UNRWA AT AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF BEIRUT, 25 FEBRUARY 2014

Yesterday, in Syria, I visited Yarmouk and at a food distribution I met Um Ahmed. She and others were receiving UNRWA food parcels after months of extreme deprivation. Um Ahmed was asking questions: "I am a Palestinian refugee," she said. "What is our fate?", she demanded, and then added: "What are we supposed to do, where are we supposed to go? What is the solution for us Palestinians?"

These are simple, straightforward questions that may be asked by anyone who has been living in a devastating conflict for three years, and has seen her home and community destroyed. 

Yarmouk

Read the full speech here.

21 February 2014: Distribution of Humanitarian Assistance in Yarmouk (Footage Taken on January 31)

UNRWA resumed its food distribution to civilians inside Yarmouk camp in Damascus on 19 February 2014, after a pause of eleven days. We welcome the support of Syrian authorities and the establishment of an environment on the ground in which our staff have been granted the facilitation they need to begin distributing desperately needed food and other humanitarian supplies to the thousands of civilians in Yarmouk. This video footage was taken in January of 2014.

11 February 2014: Yarmouk, the refugee camp that shames the world

Tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees trapped in a Syrian camp by the war are enduring appalling conditions that ought to concern all of us. Christopher Gunness, spokesman for the UN relief effort, says humanitarian aid must be stepped up.

The lexicon of man's inhumanity to man has a new word – Yarmouk. The camp, on the edge of Damascus , was once the bustling, vibrant heart of the Palestine refugee community in Syria, where 160,000 Palestinians lived in harmony with Syrians of all stripes. Over the past six months, it has become synonymous with infant malnutrition, women dying in childbirth for lack of medical care and besieged communities reduced to eating animal feed – all this in the capital city of a UN member state in the 21st century.

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2 February 2014: Photo Gallery: Distribution of food parcels in Yarmouk

We appreciates that the authorities on the ground have significantly improved processing to enable UNRWA to distribute food parcels to an average of 900 families each day. However, further improvements are required to reach many more families in need of urgent assistance each day. As this image shows, an uninterrupted humanitarian access to Yarmouk is of absolute necessity.

Humanitarian needs in Yarmouk are enormous and people in the camp are desperate for assistance. At the end of each day (once darkness or an incident forces withdrawal of the distribution team) hundreds of civilians, in a visible state of desperation, exhaustion and anguish, have to return to the camp, many of them with nothing. To make any progress in addressing these needs, UNRWA's presence and humanitarian assistance work must be permitted to continue and expand over a period of months, not days.

Yarmouk

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30 January 2014: UNRWA successfully delivers aid to Yarmouk

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) today distributed food parcels, bread and milk for infants to 1,026 Palestine refugee families inside Yarmouk. The distribution was halted at around 16:00 hrs due to the sound of gunfire in the immediate vicinity.

UNRWA appreciates the support of the Government of Syria in authorizing and facilitating this accelerated distribution process. The Agency recognizes the efforts and cooperation of GAPAR, its state counterpart, of the PLO and Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian charities that supported the distribution today.

Yarmouk

Read the full statement

17 January 2014:"How Much Longer?"
Statement by the International Humanitarian Community

How much longer must children suffer from hunger? How much longer must women die in childbirth for lack of medical care? How much longer must we be barred from the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus and the many thousands of desperate and vulnerable civilians caught up in Syria's conflict? How much longer will we allow such unimaginable civilian suffering?

We, the international humanitarian community, call on the participants of the Geneva Peace Talks to lift the restrictions on Yarmouk refugee camp and all areas of humanitarian need in Syria.

Yarmouk

Read the full statement

 
10 January 2014: Dire deprivation in Syria's Yarmouk camp

Aid agencies in Syria say a refugee camp for Palestinians in Damascus is facing a humanitarian crisis. The Yarmouk camp has been under siege for a year with thousands of people trapped with very little food or medicine.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has called for an immediate humanitarian access to the refugee camp. "Yarmouk is a place of profound civilian suffering," UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness tells Aljazeera.

 

 
28 December 2013: Death and starvation in Syria's Yarmouk

The United Nations has warned of a disastrous humanitarian situation in Syria's Yarmouk Camp, a residential area home to Palestinian refugees and Syrians.There are reports that five people have starved to death in the neighbourhood.Yarmouk has been a stronghold for opposition forces for more than a year.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has called for an immediate humanitarian corridor to access the people trapped inside. "We are extremely concerned about the plight of around 20,000 civilians trapped inside the camp," UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness tells Aljazeera.

 

20 December 2013: Statement by the Commissioner-General on Palestine refugees trapped inside Yarmouk 

It has been one year since Yarmouk, the vast suburb of Damascus that was home to the largest Palestine refugee community in Syria, was engulfed by fighting.  The situation has progressively deteriorated: 20,000 remaining Palestinians have been trapped inside Yarmouk, and although very alarming reports of hardship and hunger have continued to multiply, since September 2013 we have been unable to enter the area to deliver desperately needed relief supplies.

The armed conflict continues in Yarmouk and the death toll among Palestinians continues to rise.  UNRWA remains constantly committed to assist, but the continued presence of armed groups that entered the area at the end of 2012 and its closure by government forces have thwarted all our humanitarian efforts.

Read the full statement

17 November 2013: UNRWA Demands Humintarian Access to Yarmouk

The United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is increasingly concerned at the continued prevention of access for desperately needed humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians in Yarmouk. The Syrian authorities and all concerned parties have the power to allow UNRWA to deliver safely humanitarian assistance into Yarmouk, to ease the intense suffering that Palestinian civilians are enduring there. They must exercise this power for the sake of humanity.

Read the full statement

26 July 2013: Several Palestine Refugees Killed by Armed Hostilities in Yarmouk

UNRWA remains gravely concerned about the risks posed to Palestine refugee civilians in several camps in Damascus Governorate, particularly in Yarmouk, where ongoing armed conflict is reaching new peaks of intensity. 
 
To the south of Damascus city, several Palestine refugee camps and areas of residence have experienced sporadic armed hostilities for weeks, with Seyda Zeinab, Husseiniyeh and Sbeineh among the most affected.  Yarmouk is, however, at the centre of UNRWA's concern, as credible reports point to a sharp escalation in the armed confrontation there. In one incident, in the evening of 24 July, ten civilians, including at least five Palestine refugees, were reportedly killed, allegedly as a result of two rockets impacting in a residential area. 

Read the full statement

16 December 2012: Statement by UNRWA on Events in Yarmouk Camp

Horrific images captured by news agencies, and reports of numerous casualties and the flight of Palestine refugees from Yarmouk camp are being followed up and assessed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) with extreme worry and grave concern.

Initial reports indicate that air strikes hit the centre of Yarmouk, and the camp is said to be in a chaotic state; with ongoing fighting in the southern parts of the camp inching north-wards, and reports coming in of families trying to escape on foot as cars and other forms of transportation are not able to move within the camp.

Read the full statement