"Completely catastrophic situation" in Syria refugee camp

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UNRWA urgently calls for protection of civilians in Yarmouk. Photo: UNRWA

Palestinians living in a refugee camp in Syria are facing what has been described as a "completely catastrophic situation."

The chief of the UN agency which supports Palestinian refugees called the conditions in Yarmouk camp close to the Syrian capital Damascus as "more desperate than ever."

It follows reports that the camp has been overrun by fighters from the ISIL terrorist group.

Cathrine Hasselberg reports.

At its height Yarmouk camp was home to around 200,000 Palestinian refugees.

After more than four years of civil war in Syria, just 18,000 people remain.

They've been largely cut off from the outside world and now there are reports that violence has intensified following the arrival of fighters from the outlawed ISIL terrorist group.

Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA), Pierre Krähenbühl said the remaining refugees are in a desperate state.

"It is a completely catastrophic situation in human terms. There is no doubt about that. I think what the civilians in Yarmouk are most concerned about right now is bare survival. When I visited three weeks ago, it was very clear that the people are so weak as a result of the two years of both the siege that is imposed, but also the actions carried out by armed groups inside."

The UN is currently unable to access the camp to provide humanitarian aid.

UNWRA says 14 members of staff have died since the beginning of the conflict in Syria.

A further 25 are still missing. 

Cathrine Hasselberg, United Nations

Duration: 1’14″

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