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.
Some 130,000 Palestine refugees have fled Yarmouk since December 2012. UNRWA is now providing humanitarian assistance to around 25,000 Palestine refugee civilians who choose to remain in or lack the means to leave Yarmouk. These are men, women and children who have no part in the hostilities and are therefore entitled, under international humanitarian law, to protection from armed conflict and its effects. While UNRWA is not in a position to independently verify reports of Palestinian deaths in Yarmouk, it is clear that further armed escalation is causing new waves of displacement and a rise in the toll of Palestinian deaths, injuries, trauma and overall suffering.
UNRWA strongly appeals to all sides to avoid the serious humanitarian consequences caused by disregarding of international legal obligations. Palestine refugees and other civilians must be protected, and civilian homes, properties and other civilian infrastructure spared from damage and destruction. All parties must avoid conducting the conflict in Palestine refugee camps and other civilian areas.
UNRWA deplores the human suffering engendered by the insistence on attempting to resolve the Syria conflict militarily. In the strongest terms, UNRWA reiterates its appeal to all concerned parties to end the suffering, comply with their obligations under international law and resolve the conflict in Syria through mediated dialogue and negotiations.