Syria: Urgent call to protect civilians caught between fires in besieged Yarmouk Camp

besieged Yarmouk Camp

9 April 2015. In view of the dramatic deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp (located South Damascus), the undersigned organizations urge all parties on the ground to abide by their obligations under international law and to ensure protection of the lives of civilians trapped in the fighting. The international community should take urgent measures to protect thousands of civilians at risk and alleviate the suffering of the most vulnerable.

For almost two years, the area has subjected to a lengthy siege imposed by Syrian governmental forces backed by allied militias, which already resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis characterized by unprecedented starvation of civilian populations and shortage in basic food and aid supplies. On April 1 2015, the organization “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)” launched an attack on the Yarmouk camp seemingly coordinated in an alliance with the Al Qaeda-linked “Jabhat Al Nusra” Front.

As ISIS fighters took over several areas in the camp which were previously controlled by the anti-governmental battalion “Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis”, random mortar shelling reportedly resulted in the death of media activist Jamal Abu-Khalifah and civil society activist Abdallatif Al-Rimawi. Scores of others were injured, including medical personnel of the Palestine Hospital which was targeted by governmental forces on 1st April, an attack which resulted in the death of two ISIS fighters and several casualties, according to information provided to the EMHRN by activists based inside the camp.

On 4 April, the Syrian Air Force launched air raids on the camp and dropped explosive barrels on civilian populated areas, including Magharba St., Palestine St. and Said Alas St. Governmental forces and supporting militias tried to invade the camp from the North, causing scores of casualties and injuries amongst civilians, thus escalating the suffering of a civilian population already weakened by the siege imposed on the camp for two years.

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