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Food runs out in Yarmouk camp

An UNRWA spokesperson warns that a humanitarian catastrophe looms if food parcels continue to be prevented from reaching the refugee camp
Most of the camp's population have fled since the beginning of the siege (AFP)

The United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has warned that the food supply in the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria has now run out, with tens of thousands at risk of starvation.

Since the 8th of April, UNRWA has been prohibited from providing food parcels to the impoverished Palestinians. Each parcel is able to provide food for 10 days - therefore, the camp has now run out of food.

No UNRWA food to #Yarmouk today for the 10th consecutive day. A food parcel lasts 10 days so from tomorrow zero UN food in #Yarmouk RT

— Chris Gunness (@ChrisGunness) April 18, 2014

Speaking on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 on the 17th of April, Chris Gunness, a spokesman for UNRWA, lambasted the conditions of Palestinians in the camp and called for the international community to do more.

“The lexicon of man’s inhumanity to man has a new word. It’s ‘Yarmouk’. It is a place where UN assisted communities are facing starvation. Where women are dying in childbirth for lack of medical care. Where the elderly, the sick, the dying, infants, are being forced to eat animal feed in the capital city of a UN member state in the 21st century. As a matter of political choice, it is an affront to the humanity of us all and the Security Council must do something.”

The camp has been under siege since July 2013 after opposition fighters entered the camp the previous December. The Assad government claims that it is fighting ‘terrorism’ in the camp and has maintained a siege, bombing targets within the camp and, until recently, preventing the entry of relief workers.

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In January 2014, an agreement was brokered with the regime to allow humanitarian access to the camp, but the agreement broke down last month and supplies are no longer being allowed into the camp. It has also been claimed that Islamist militant groups such as the Al-Nusra Front have been partly responsible for blocking access and attacking convoys.

Over 100 people have already starved to death, including one survivor of the 1948 Nakba in which 750,000 Palestinians were forced to flee to refugee camps like Yarmouk. Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa programme decried the Syrian government’s actions against the camp. “Syrian forces are committing war crimes by using starvation of civilians as a weapon of war. The harrowing accounts of families having to resort to eating cats and dogs, and civilians attacked by snipers as they forage for food, have become all too familiar details of the horror story that has materialized in Yarmouk”.

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