BEIRUT

Middle East

Food aid enters Yarmouk for second day

An UNRWA pick up truck loaded with food supplies driving past heavily damaged shops inside the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp, south of Damascus, to distribute bread and basic food aid to the residents of of the besieged camp, January 30, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / HO / SANA)

DAMASCUS: The United Nations distributed food in the Syrian capital’s besieged neighborhood of Yarmouk for a second day Friday in a bid to help tens of thousands of trapped civilians.

The aid distribution comes after months of siege by the army that has caused shortages of food and medicines, which have led to the deaths of dozens of people, according to a monitoring group.

U.N. Palestinian refugee agency spokesman Chris Gunness said an aid convoy entered the neighborhood in south Damascus Friday morning, and that the distribution process began following Thursday’s delivery of 1,026 food parcels.

However, the development came as activists in Yarmouk said a 40-day-old girl, Rawan Taleb, died of malnutrition and dehydration, bringing the latest death toll to 89 people.

Yarmouk is largely in the hands of rebel forces, and has been under army siege since June, making it nearly impossible for food and medicines to enter or for residents to leave.

The neighborhood began as a camp for Palestinian refugees, but long ago evolved into a bustling district housing some 150,000 Palestinians, as well as many Syrians. Only around 18,000 Palestinians remain in the camp, much of which has been destroyed by fighting.

Gunness said UNRWA appreciated the efforts of the Syrian government and others in facilitating the aid delivery.

“These distributions demonstrate the extraordinary suffering in Yarmouk and other closed areas of Syria can be addressed if all parties to the conflict fulfill their obligations to protect civilians,” he added.

He said UNRWA stood ready to provide food for all the estimated 18,000 Palestinian civilians still in the neighborhood. The food parcels contain enough provisions to feed a family for 10 days, and Gunness said it was “imperative that continuous access to Yarmouk is authorized and supported.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 01, 2014, on page 10.

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Summary

The United Nations distributed food in the Syrian capital's besieged neighborhood of Yarmouk for a second day Friday in a bid to help tens of thousands of trapped civilians.

"These distributions demonstrate the extraordinary suffering in Yarmouk and other closed areas of Syria can be addressed if all parties to the conflict fulfill their obligations to protect civilians," he added.

He said UNRWA stood ready to provide food for all the estimated 18,000 Palestinian civilians still in the neighborhood.


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