The Palestinian Committee for Human Rights has condemned the decision by United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to stop the provision of aid and support to 18,000 people in Yarmouk refugee camp, Damascus, after removing the camp from its list of besieged Syrian areas.
The UN defines a besieged area as one that is, "surrounded by armed actors with the sustained effect that humanitarian assistance cannot regularly enter, and civilians, the sick and wounded cannot regularly exit the area.”
The committee argued that Yarmouk camp continues to fall within both criteria as people are prevented from leaving the camp, with the exception of those who face threatening medical conditions and students sitting exams.
The statement by the committee explained that electricity, water and communication are all unavailable in Yarmouk camp, as electricity has been off for two years, while water was cut a year ago. The camp’s entrance leading to Damascus has been closed for two years.
According to residents, people were denied entry and exit and no support had been received for more than a month, claiming that humanitarian aid had only been delivered to the neighboring town of Yalda, in hopes it would be passed on to those in Yarmouk.
Yarmouk was home to the largest Palestinian refugee community in Syria, but most residents have fled the camp since the uprising began in March 2011.