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Humanitarian operations to support Palestinian refugees continue near Syrian capital - UN agency

5 May 2016 – Following intense fighting between armed groups inside Yarmouk camp, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reported that it has been able to continue its humanitarian operations in Yalda, near Damascus, since Monday.

"UNRWA has provided vital commodities and essential services to Palestine refugees and other vulnerable civilians from Yarmouk, Yalda, Babilla and Beit Saham," the agency's spokesperson, Chris Gunness, indicated.

"The conditions for safe, orderly distribution and services were maintained and civilians residing in Yarmouk were able to access Yalda, receive much needed assistance, and to return to their homes," he added.

From 7 April until 2 May, intense clashes between extremist armed groups inside Yarmouk had interrupted the agency's humanitarian operations. During this time, people were trapped in their homes, hunkered down to avoid being hit by bullets and shrapnel, with little or no food and water.

Thanks to renewed access, yesterday UNRWA was provided 1,200 civilian families with 35 kilos of food parcels including rice, sugar, pulses, pasta, oil, tomato paste, tea, salt, jam, powder milk and canned fish. The same families also received hygiene kits.

In addition, the UN agency made available to civilians the services of its mobile medical team composed of two medical officers, two nurses and one assistant pharmacist. The staff treated 259 civilians in need of primary health care including 61 children, 112 women and 86 men.

"UNRWA is encouraged by a third successful day of vital humanitarian operations and expects to continue aid distribution and humanitarian services in Yalda as long as conditions remain safe and the required authorizations are granted," said Mr. Gunness.

"It is vital that all concerned actors ensure the long-term continuation of the conditions which enabled the success of UNRWA's missions so far. UNRWA stands ready to sustain for the long term delivery of its humanitarian assistance and services for the benefit of Palestine refugees and other vulnerable civilians in the Yarmouk-Yalda area," he noted.

UNRWA has led humanitarian assistance efforts in the Yarmouk-Yalda area since January 2014. In spite of immense and complex obstacles, including frequent interruptions, the agency has established a record of persistent advocacy and effective humanitarian action in the area.



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