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Ibtisam Azem

UN relief chief: Yarmouk conditions 'beyond inhumane'

The UN says 18,000 civilians are trapped in Yarmouk, including many children [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 7 April, 2015

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UN Security Council promises to protect civilians in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Syria after UN relief chief's shocking report.

The UN Security Council has expressed serious concerns on Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria after large areas were taken over by the Islamic State group.

The council said it was determined to take extra measures to ensure the security of civilians in the camp, but did not say what those steps would be. It held a closed emergency session on Monday to look at the worsening conditions in the camp.

Pierre Krahenbuhl, the commissioner-general of the UN Relief agency UNRWA, said the situation had become "beyond inhumane" and that besieged camp residents had been starving for two years because of a blockade imposed on them by various armed groups.

Krahenbuhl, who had spent three weeks in the camp, said refugees were living on rations of about 400 calories a day, well below the minimum average of 2,000 set by the World Health Organisation.

He told the council that only 18,000 remained of the 160,000 refugees living in the camp before the war began.

Krahenbuhl said control was passing from one group to the other regularly and it was difficult to say which armed group was in the ascendency. However, he said it was "safe to say that a significant percentage of civilians are now in the area controlled by armed groups".

He urged influential political and religious leaders in the region to put pressure on armed groups, including IS, to observe international human rights law and humanitarian law which require protection of civilians.

Krahenbuhl added that 95 percent of Palestinians still in the country fully depended on UNRWA for assistance, while in the past the majority were self-reliant.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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