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UNRWA’s Commissioner General firmly reiterates the need for unhindered humanitarian access after visiting Yarmouk Camp
UNRWA’s Commissioner General, Filippo Grandi entered Yarmouk camp during the resumption of UNRWA’s humanitarian aid distribution this morning. He was shocked by the condition of the Palestine refugees he spoke to and the extent of war damage done to homes.
“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. ”
Yarmouk Camp has been sealed since July 2013, resulting in acute and widespread deprivation, including severe malnutrition, while civilian residents are constantly exposed to the threat of death, injuries and trauma of the armed conflict.
UNRWA welcomes the support of Syrian authorities to resume distribution today. During his three day visit to Syria, Grandi was encouraged by assurances given by the authorities that access will be maintained and expanded, and ultimately lead to the safe return of Palestine refugees to their homes.
“We hope that the positive developments in Yarmouk can give momentum to peaceful dialogue between all parties so that there can be humanitarian access for all civilians in Syria who have suffered enough”, said Grandi.
UNRWA reiterates the demands of the international community for the full and unhindered humanitarian access to all conflict-affected communities in Syria.
Following clashes in northern Yarmouk on the night of 7/8 February, UNRWA distribution of food parcels and medical supplies had been suspended. Until this point, UNRWA had successfully distributed 7,000 food parcels, 10,000 polio vaccines and a range of other medical supplements to civilians inside the camp, after partial humanitarian access was granted on 18 January and 20 February.
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.
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