Middle East

120 Palestinian kids leave Yarmuk siege for exams

A girl from the besieged al-Yarmouk camp rides a bicycle in a water puddle, south of Damascus, May 9, 2014. REUTERS/Rame Alsayed

BEIRUT: One hundred and twenty Palestinian children in Yarmuk were Sunday allowed out of the besieged refugee camp in southern Damascus to sit public exams, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said.

"UNRWA arranged for the (120) students temporarily to leave Yarmuk to enable them to participate in nationwide state exams for ninth graders," said the agency's spokesman Chris Gunness.

Once home to 150,000 Palestinians as well as Syrian residents, embattled Yarmuk has been under total army siege for the past year.

The camp is the scene of frequent violence despite a truce and its estimated 18,000 remaining residents also face dire food and medical shortages.

The students who temporarily left Yarmuk are being hosted at two government and UN-run facilities, and they have been provided with hygiene kits and a stipend, said Gunness.

"However, the situation the students left remains dire. There have been no UNRWA distribution of food parcels to civilians in Yarmuk since 13 May," he added.

In a Tweet, Gunness said: "Imagine being a 9th grader in Syria! Where must you think your future lies?"

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, food and medical shortages have killed more than 100 people in the camp.





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