Yarmouk, Syria: Humanitarian needs rising as residents flee fighting, seek safety in UNRWA schools

17 December 2012

As the Syria conflict and its impact on civilians continue to escalate, UNRWA is exerting all efforts to respond to the humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees. Over the past several days, Syrians and the over 150,000 Palestine refugee resident in Yarmouk, a suburb of Damascus, have experienced particularly intense armed engagements involving the use of heavy weapons and aircraft. Credible reports point to civilian deaths, injuries and destruction of property in Yarmouk. There are also waves of significant displacement as Yarmouk residents, including UNRWA staff and their families, scramble to seek safety as the armed conflict persists.

UNRWA is how housing over 2,600 displaced persons in its facilities and Damascus-area schools, and the number is growing rapidly. The Agency is working in coordination with humanitarian partners, including the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, United Nations agencies and the Danish Refugee Council to ensure that people in need have shelter, mattresses, blankets, food and other essential items.

Palestine refugees are also fleeing beyond Damascus. Although the scale and direction of this movement cannot be precisely determined, some have made their way to Lebanon. Initial reports indicate that well over 2,000 people have attempted or are attempting to enter Lebanon.

UNRWA remains gravely concerned about the safety of the Palestine refugee population in Syria and appeals to all parties to refrain from actions that endanger civilian lives and property. The Agency appreciates that the Government of Lebanon is allowing Palestine refugees from Syria to seek safety in Lebanon, and reiterates that refugees fleeing conflict must be accorded the safety and protection to which they are entitled under international law.