Middle East

Chaos as food aid enters Syria's Yarmouk camp

UN spokesman describes "chaotic scenes" as 1,028 food rations were delivered to the besieged camp south of Damascus.

Last updated: 30 Jan 2014 20:11
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The United Nations Relief and Works Agency described the operation as 'modest' [EPA]

A food convoy has gained entry to Syria's besieged Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp, where scores have died from shortages of food and medicines. 

Chris Gunness, a United Nations Relief and Works Agency  (UNRWA) spokesman, said 1,028 food rations had been delivered to the camp south of Damascus on Thursday, in a "modest" launch of the rescue operation.

Each ration is enough to keep a family of eight going for 10 days, he told the AFP news agency.

Gunnes said earlier, after the initial deliveries, that there had been "chaotic scenes" as the food was distributed, the first to enter the camp since January 21, when UNRWA took in 138 food parcels.

Gunness said UNRWA hoped further convoys would swiftly follow as tens of thousands of civilians were in need.

"We are encouraged by the delivery of this aid and the cooperation of the parties on the ground," he said.

"We hope to continue and increase substantially the amount of aid being delivered because the numbers of those needing assistance is in the tens of thousands, including 18,000 Palestinians, among them women and children."

Syria's state news agency SANA also reported the aid distribution.

"New food aid has entered Yarmouk camp, with the application of a peaceful, popular initiative supported by the Syrian government to alleviate the suffering of the residents surrounded in the camp, taken hostage by armed terrorist groups," it said.

Desperate conditions

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 86 people have died in Yarmouk in recent months from starvation or lack of medical care.

The camp is largely in the hands of rebel forces, and has been surrounded by a tight army siege since June, making it nearly impossible for food and medicines to enter or for residents to leave.

Residents have spoken of eating grass, cats and dogs in a bid to stay alive.

The camp began as a home for Palestinian refugees, but long ago evolved into a bustling district housing some 150,000 Palestinians, as well as many Syrians.

But now just an estimated 18,000 Palestinians remain in the camp, much of which has been destroyed by fighting.


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