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‘We demand that Yarmouk and other civilian areas are open to humanitarian access’

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A Palestinian woman protests in Ramallah in solidarity with the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria. (Photo: Nasser Nasser/AP)

A Palestinian woman protests in Ramallah in solidarity with the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria. (Photo: Nasser Nasser/AP)

The UN relief agency UNRWA has initiated an on-line campaign to get aid to Yarmouk, the neighborhood in Damascus where many Palestinian refugees live. “We demand access to #Yarmouk & all vulnerable civilians in #Syria. How much longer will they be left to suffer?” Here is UNRWA’s press release. –Ed.

UN-led Campaign Supported by Millions Globally Tells the Parties to the Syria Conflict “End Restrictions on Civilians Now”

Press Release by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)

Jerusalem, 24 January 2014: An unprecedented three-day social media campaign generating more than 31.6 million “impressions” and reaching tens of millions around the world, has demanded that the parties to the Syria conflict allow aid to flow to Yarmouk, the besieged Damascus neighbourhood and a key area hosting Palestine refugees in Syria. The campaign, which was backed by celebrities like Mia Farrow, Hugh Grant and Arab Idol Mohamad Assaf, brought together UN agencies such as UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP, OCHA and UNRWA as well as NGOs; among them Human Rights Watch, Save the Children, the International Rescue Committee and grassroots organisations with deep reach into their communities.

“Millions of people heard our plea, that we have seen enough reports of starving children, infants with rickets and women dying in childbirth for lack of medical care. We urge the parties to listen to the voice of the international humanitarian community,” said UNRWA Spokesperson, Chris Gunness. “A small amount of food aid has been allowed into Yarmouk in the last few days, but this is a drop in the ocean. We demand that Yarmouk and other civilian areas throughout Syria are open to safe, regular and substantial humanitarian access; that the civilian residents of Yarmouk like all civilians be granted free and safe movement; and that all sides to the Syria conflict comply with their international obligations to protect Syrian and Palestinian civilians in Yarmouk and beyond.”

Over a thousand people and organizations signed up for a ‘Thunderclap’ which simultaneously sent out a tweet to over 11.5 million Twitter accounts generating further social media “impressions”. The campaign was led by UNRWA, that for decades has been the agency responsible for education, health, relief and social services in Yarmouk, which was home to some 160,000 Palestinian refugees. After nearly three years of fighting, the Palestinian population of Yarmouk has been reduced to about 18,000 people, including women and children, to whom UNRWA, along with UN and other agencies, is striving to bring emergency aid.

Further details of the campaign, one of the most successful in history of Thunderclap, can be found [here].

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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11 Responses

  1. yrn on January 24, 2014, 7:03 pm

    No flotilla for the Palestinians in Syria, as if Israel is not involved and can be blamed, no one gives a S**t about the Palestinians, proves again that there is no Pro-Palestinians, there is only Anti Israeli Jewish state.
    No one in MW will do anything, as they support butcher Assad, the man defends his country and if the Palestinians a starved to death, its OK in Mondowiess.

    • talknic on January 25, 2014, 1:58 pm

      @ yrn “No flotilla for the Palestinians in Syria”

      (‘scuse me folks) Nope. There’s a f&*(ing war going on you moron. The Gaza flotillas were never during Israel’s Gaza slaughterfest!

      If you’re genuinely concerned for them start your own flotilla! I’ll donate a grand and a flak jacket if you do.

      “No one in MW will do anything, as they support butcher Assad”

      Why do you post crap? There are differing points of view as to what can be done in Syria. All of which as far as I can tell are out of concern for the innocent victims. The only posters trying to score points are rrrrsols like yourself.

      • just on January 25, 2014, 2:06 pm


    • talknic on January 25, 2014, 2:06 pm

      @ yrn ” if the Palestinians a starved to death, its OK in Mondowiess”

      Uh? You can’t even stick to your own propaganda? The Palestinians aren’t starving to death remember! They have a giant shopping mall! It has about 14 WHOLE shops in it!

    • talknic on January 25, 2014, 2:12 pm


      Agent yrn has deviated from the script.

      Gazan’s are suddenly starving to death!

      Is there anything we can do to help him back on to the straight and narrow?

      Pls advise.


      • just on January 25, 2014, 2:22 pm

        LOL, talknic…

        perhaps he/she has had a miraculous conversion…

        “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
        ― Mark Twain

        Methinks he/she is just so used lying that he/she cannot keep it straight anymore.

  2. Walid on January 25, 2014, 1:36 pm

    That Thunderclap campaign with 1000 volunteers generating tweets to 11.5 million others sounds like a circus act. They should have it registered at the Guinness Records. I wish they would have sent out an S.O.S to the sponsors of those 200 foreign fighters holding hostage the 18,000 famished refugees to have them walk away from the camp to let the food supplies in. But I guess this situation is exactly what the sponsors want.

    • W.Jones on January 25, 2014, 4:15 pm


      I read in one of the MW comments that the insurgents were shooting at the aid and that was why it was not let in?

  3. yrn on January 25, 2014, 5:48 pm


    Read The Electronic Intifada

    Syrian army slows Yarmouk food aid to a trickle

    On 21 January, staff from UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, attempted once again to deliver food parcels to Yarmouk camp on the outskirts of Damascus, where thousands of Palestinian refugees and Syrian citizens are trapped.

    UNRWA appreciates the steps taken so far to facilitate the delivery of food parcels to Yarmouk. However, humanitarian access is not yet sufficient to meet the desperate needs of civilians trapped in the camp. UNRWA is strongly urging that more should be done to provide access to many more civilians and to achieve safe, substantial and regular humanitarian access to Yarmouk.

    Syrian army delays

    The UNRWA statement is typically diplomatic, but hints at the fact that greater humanitarian access to the civilians trapped in Yarmouk camp remains in the hands of the Syrian army.

    An eyewitness told The Electronic Intifada that distribution of relief supplies in recent days has been extremely slow as a result of a time-consuming process of identification and list-checking by government forces at the distribution point.

    On 18 and 20 January, for instance, numerous civilians were turned away and only a fraction of the available relief was distributed each day.

    On 21 January, according to the eyewitness, UNRWA staff arrived at the northern Batikha entrance of Yarmouk before 11 AM. At 11:30, the team was permitted by government forces to enter the camp under the same government clearances that had allowed access for UNRWA staff on 18 and 20 January.

    UNRWA brought several dozen food parcels and other supplies to the to the Sama Street distribution point, approximately one kilometer south of the Batikha entrance and about 100 meters north of the front line.

    However, the distribution of the supplies was delayed for several hours by Syrian government forces as nine civilians were being evacuated.

    Finally the distrubution began at 2:45PM, but was again interrupted when an injured Palestinian man unsuccessfully tried to seek clearance to leave Yarmouk.

    Distribution then resumed, but at 4:45PM government forces shut the process down. By the end of the day, only about two dozen food parcels had been distributed in total and the UNRWA team left.

    The reason the distribution was so slow is that that military personnel would only allow food parcels to be given to people whose name is on a list of 5,000 Yarmouk residents supplied to it by a Palestinian charity.

    Any other civilians approaching the distribution area seeking food were turned away.”

  4. yrn on January 26, 2014, 10:26 am

    Gaza, ALRAY (Palestinian Media Agency) 10:04 – 26 January 2014
    Three more Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk camp died of starvation on Saturday due to the ongoing imposed siege on the camp by Syrian regime forces for the 196 days in a raw.
    Action Group for Palestinians of Syria reported that Haniyeh Abu al-Ruz , Moses Mari and Omar Abu Siam died of illnesses exacerbated by hunger , noting that the number of people died of hunger in Yarmouk camp is up to 66.
    It also reported that Syrian aircrafts pummeled Dera’a camp causing several injuries .
    It explained that those who are still in the camp are suffering from a severe shortage of food, medicine and heating materials.

    Shhhhhh ……. Don’t tell Taxi

  5. yrn on January 26, 2014, 10:31 am

    Gaza, Gaza, ALRAY (Palestinian Media Agency) – 57 Palestinian refugees ,in Yarmouk refugee camp, died of starvation, hunger-related illnesses and lack of medical aids due to the siege imposed on the camp by “Syrian regime army and other forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad regime for 191 consecutive days”, right group reported.
    Action Group for Palestinians in Syria said that the 57 died in the period between 11/2013 to 19th , Jan, 2014.

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