U.N. concerned about civilians in ISIS-held district south Damascus

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Civilians stranded in Yarmouk Camp southern Damascus. File photo

ARA News 

Damascus, Syria – On Monday, the United Nations Security Council issued a statement saying it would look at how to help some 18,000 Palestinian refugees and Syrian civilians in a camp largely taken over by Islamic State as a top U.N. official suggested it consider measures to evacuate people.

The head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Pierre Krahenbuhl, has reportedly briefed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the 15-member council about the Yarmouk camp on the outskirts of Damascus, just a few miles (kilometers) from President Bashar al-Assad’s palace.

“What the civilians in Yarmouk are most concerned about right now is bare survival. It’s as simple and straightforward as that,” Krahenbuhl told reporters

United Nations officials said on Sunday that some civilians stranded in the war-turn district of Yarmouk in Southern Damascus have been evacuated. 

The Yarmouk Camp for Palestinian refugees was taken over by militants of the Islamic State (IS/ISIS) on Saturday, following battles with rebels of Aknaf Bait al-Maqdis. 

Chris Gunness, spokesman of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said that 94 civilians, including 43 women and 20 children, were able to leave the district on Sunday afternoon, and have reportedly received humanitarian assistance. 

The U.N. Security Council said it would “look into further measures that can be taken to help in providing the necessary protection and assistance.” The council called for safe passage and evacuation of civilians from Yarmouk.

In Yarmouk, more than 18,000 civilians –mostly Palestinian refugees– have suffered years of bombing, army siege and militia control. They are currently under the control of IS militants. 

 

Reporting by: Laila Majdalawi 

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