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Aid reaches Damascus-area Palestinian refugees for 2nd week

Feb. 27, 2016 1:20 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 27, 2016 10:34 P.M.)
Thousands of Palestine refugees from Yarmouk, Yalda, Babila and Beit Saham stand in line to receive much-needed assistance. (Photo Credit: UNRWA)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Humanitarian aid workers for the second week in a row had access to Palestinian refugees in Syria's war-torn Damascus area, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said Friday.

The agency said in a statement that humanitarian assistance was delivered to refugee families from Yarmouk, Yalda, Babila and Beit Saham through a distribution center in the Yalda neighborhood.

Refugees reported to UNRWA that recurring low temperatures during the winter season had taken a toll on their families, as repeated clashes and armed violence over the past three years has left many homes without windows or electricity.

UN aid workers on Feb. 14 gained access to Palestinian refugees in the Damascus area for the first time in over seven months following approval by the Syrian government to open a limited number of besieged areas across the war-torn country.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness told Ma’an at the time that the go-ahead enabled crucial access, but added that aid workers have still not been able to access the Yarmouk camp itself since March 28 of last year.

Palestinian residents of Yarmouk refugee camp who traveled to the neighborhood of Yalda in order to receive aid at the time said the situation in the camp was “beyond inhumane,” Gunness said.

Despite the recent aid access, thousands of Palestinian refugees in camps across Syria remain cut off. The around 450,000 Palestinians estimated to remain in Syria are among the millions to come under repeated attacks and sieges since fighting began in Syria five years ago.

UNRWA reported at least 120 people killed -- including an estimated 31 Palestinians -- on Feb. 21 after the market area of Sayyuda Zeinab in southern Damascus was targeted with explosives.

A further 150 Syrians and Palestinians were injured in the attack, of whom 13 were Palestinian children.

They are among at least 250,000 people to be killed since the Syrian conflict began, according to UN documentation.
Palestinian families receive blankets from UNRWA workers who gained access to the Yalda area of Damascus. (Photo Credit: UNRWA)
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