Surviving life in the Islamic State (ISIS) held Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Syria is a “miracle”, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl said, describing life there as “hell”.
In an article published yesterday, Krähenbühl said the situation of the refugees living in Yarmouk makes it imperative for the international community to respond and to provide humanitarian assistance to the thousands trapped inside the camp.
He recounted meeting the youngest Palestinian refugee to flee the camp, Jihad who was 14 days old. Krähenbühl said he also met three-month-old Mohammed who were miracle children as they were still alive.
“I encountered two such individuals on my mission to Damascus – Jihad and Mohammad – tiny vulnerable infants who left Yarmouk in recent days, a place that was described last week by the secretary-general as one of the ‘lower circles of hell’,” he said.
“Looking into those bright young faces, touching their pristine hands, the logic of our humanitarian mandate, the mission to protect, never felt stronger to me,” he added.
UNRWA’s chief arrived on Saturday in Damascus to discuss with Syrian officials “peaceful approaches to address the humanitarian situation in Yarmouk camp,” according to the agency’s statement.
Krähenbühl warned that people in Yarmouk are suffering from the siege and hunger. Individuals are surviving on just 400 calories per day.
The senior UN official stressed the importance of providing assistance to those who have decided to temporarily leave the camp and find shelter elsewhere.
He also called for a cessation of all hostilities and to pressure warring armed groups in Yarmouk to end the conflict and allow the camp to be a place where the politics of the possible begin to take hold.
Palestinian sources report that of the 18,000 Palestinians in the camp, 2,500 escaped after Islamic State militants invaded it earlier this month, some with help from Syrian regime forces.