UN urges aid access for Yarmuk refugee camp

The UN Security Council has demanded humanitarian access to Syria’s Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp as residents described fleeing in terror after the arrival of jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The advance by the extremists into the battered neighbourhood of south Damascus has alarmed the international community and Palestinian officials, with a delegation from the West Bank heading to Syria to discuss the situation.
The Security Council expressed deep concern about the situation on Monday, said Jordan’s ambassador Dina Kawar, who chairs the council this month.
It called “for the protection of civilians in the camp for ensuring a humanitarian access to the area including by providing life-saving assistance,” Kawar said.
It also stood ready to consider “further measures to provide necessary assistance,” she added, without providing details.
The call came after the council held a closed-door meeting on the crisis and heard from the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees about the plight of the camp’s 18,000 or so remaining residents.
UNRWA chief Pierre Krahenbuhl described the situation as “more desperate than ever.”
He urged countries with influence in Syria to act “for civilian lives to be spared and for humanitarian access to be given.”
“What civilians in Yarmuk are most concerned about right now is bare survival,” he said.
ISIL jihadists began an assault on Yarmuk last Wednesday, and were initially repelled by Palestinian fighters but have since seized large swathes of the district.
Nearly 40 people have been killed in the fighting, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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