UNRWA concerned over situation in Yarmouk camp, explosion near Qabr Essit camp

26 April 2016
UNRWA food distribution in Yalda, 15 March 2016. © 2016 UNRWA Photo

Statement by UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness

The most recent bombing near Qabr Essit camp (Sayyida Zeinab) leaves UNRWA very concerned about the volatility of the situation on the ground, especially as February bombings in the area claimed the lives of over 30 Palestine refugees. To minimize exposure of UNRWA staff and Palestine refugees living in the area, UNRWA closed its schools and cancelled afternoon classes for the day. It also restricted all staff movement in the area. To safeguard civilian life, UNRWA repeats its call for a complete stop of hostilities in Syria.

Despite a reported lull in clashes in Yarmouk, there are credible reports of frequent sniper fire posing high risk to civilian safety and severely curtailing freedom of movement. To date, UNRWA has not received any reports of improved civilian access to food and water. The Agency remains extremely concerned over the humanitarian needs of the population inside Yarmouk.  In the meantime, UNRWA continues to seek authorization from concerned authorities to resume critical food distributions and mobile health to the Yalda, Babila andBeit Sahem area as soon as possible.  UNRWA will resume its vital humanitarian interventions in Yalda, Babila and Beit Sahem upon receiving assurance of safe and secure passage for civilians and UN staff.

Background on the situation in Yarmouk camp 

  • UNRWA confirms its last food distribution in Yalda, Babila, and Beit Sahem took place between 9 March and 15 March. 
  • UNRWA received reports of civilians fleeing to Yalda during the week of 10 April.  
  • It is impossible for UNRWA to ascertain their health status without access to them in Yalda, Babila and Beit Sahem. The last health mission to the area was on 7 April. 
  • UNRWA is closely monitoring the situation and will maintain in the strongest terms its demands for the armed conflict to end and for the safety and protection of civilians in Yarmouk and in Syria in general. 
Background Information: 

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

For more information, please contact:

Sami Mshasha
Director of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724