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UN demands urgent action on Palestinian refugee camp

UNRWA says lives of civilians in Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria have never been more profoundly threatened.

UN demands urgent action on Palestinian refugee camp


A UN agency has demanded urgent humanitarian access to the Yarmouk refugee camp in the Syrian capital of Damascus.

"The lives of civilians in Yarmouk have never been more profoundly threatened," the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, also known as UNRWA, said in a statement issued in Jerusalem.

The agency said the encampment that houses about 18,000 Palestinian refugees, had been engulfed by intense fighting since last Wednesday, when Daesh militants reportedly entered the camp.

Daesh have captured large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria, on which it has declared what it calls a cross-border Islamic caliphate. Wednesday's attack is considered the group's first major onslaught in the Syrian capital.

Drinking water and basic health facilities were unavailable inside the camp where 3,500 children take refuge, according to the agency.

"The situation is extremely dire and threatens to deteriorate even further," it said. "UNRWA is ready to resume its assistance to the civilian population at any time but for that a cessation of hostilities is required."

The agency called on the UN Security Council to immediately act on the issue and "to ensure that all civilians are protected in accordance with the UN charter and international law."

"Failure to do so could lead to the gravest and most appalling of consequences for civilians in Yarmouk," the agency said.

The conflict in Syria, which began in March 2011, has claimed more than 220,000 lives, according to the UN.

The unrest created by the civil war paved the way for extremist movements such as Daesh to gain a foothold in the region.

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