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Zahran Allouch's death puts Yarmouk's evacuation on hold

BEIRUT |, with agencies - December 26, 2015, 16h01

In a press release issued on Friday, UNRWA (the UN agency taking care of Palestinian refugees) asked for further details about an evacuation arrangement in Yarmouk Palestinian refugees camp in Damascus: Several media recently reported that rebel and government forces had reached an agreement to evacuate civilians from the camp, along with Nosra and ISIS fighters.

The ISIS fighters were supposed to be transferred to Raqqa, the main stronghold of Islamic State in Syria.

While quoting a security source, AFP stated that the evacuation was put on hold due to the death of Zahran Allouch: the chief of Jaish al Islam, an important rebel faction in Syria, was killed yesterday in an air raid claimed by the Syrian regime. Jaish al Islam was supposed “to secure the passage through areas east of Damascus for the buses heading to Raqqa, a security source told AFP.

Several thousands of civilians are still living in the Yarmouk camp, in conditions that UNRWA described as “abject”. The camp has been trapped between rebels and government forces for several years, making it impossible for humanitarian NGOs to bring food and health material to the population.

Over the past three months, there have been persistent reports of negotiations for some form of truce or evacuation arrangement in Yarmouk Palestinian refugees camp in Damascus.

"These reports are credible and UNRWA is taking them seriously, although they have not been officially or formally confirmed, and details have been vague", announced the UN agency taking care of Palestinian refugees in a communiqué on Friday.

"We're seeking from the Syrian government further details of any negotiated arrangements that will affect the humanitarian situation of civilians in Yarmouk," UNRWA stated, while adding that "any arrangements being negotiated in and around Yarmouk must include guarantees for a durable cessation of hostilities, for the protection of civilians, and for safe, uninterrupted humanitarian access for UNRWA and other humanitarian actors".

"UNRWA is redoubling its strong appeals to the Government of Syria and relevant actors to allow and facilitate humanitarian access to Yarmouk.  This is urgently needed to enable UNRWA to   deliver food, clean water, winter supplies,  healthcare,  and other humanitarian assistance and services to civilians in Yarmouk. UNRWA stands ready immediately to respond to the humanitarian needs of the entire civilian population of Yarmouk", the communique concluded.

#Syria, #Yarmouk_camp
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