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Trapped civilians in Syria's Yarmouk Camp arouse deep concern

Xinhua, April 12, 2015 Adjust font size:

UN agency for Palestinian refugees expressed deep concern over the destiny of thousands of trapped people inside a Palestinian refugee camp overran by the Islamic State (IS) group in Damascus.

"Today we're remained very worried for the refugees and the civilians who are inside Yarmouk Camp and we are determined to provide assistance to those who have decided temporarily to leave the camp and to find shelters elsewhere," said head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) Pierre Krahenbuh.

Krahenbuh visited a school hosting hundreds of embattled Palestinians and Syrians in the Tadamun area near Yarmouk Sunday, stressing determination to help over 2,500 people who were able to flee the camp to nearby areas since the IS took large parts of it earlier this month.

He also renewed calls on armed militants in Yarmouk to grant the afflicted civilians a safe exit for assistance.

"We called on the armed groups to respect civilians, to allow those who wish to temporarily leave the camp to do so safely to be able to be assisted properly outside by us," he said.

Around 18,000 Palestinian and Syrian civilians, including 3,500 children, are still stuck in Yarmouk Camp, a large district south of the Syrian capital Damascus.

On April 1, the IS militants launched an attack against Yarmouk with the help of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, capturing most of that sprawling district, which is only seven kilometers from central Damascus.

Ever since, battles have been raging between the IS assailants and the rival militant group of Aknaf Beit al-Maqdes, which comprises of Palestinian militants who sided with the rebellion against the Syrian government.

The Aknaf group has been in control of the camp for over two years, prompting the government forces to strike a siege around the camp to protect the capital from the threats of the jihadist groups.

Reports say part of Aknaf joined the IS and Nusra while the rest showed desire to receive help from pro-government Palestinian factions based in Syria.

The pro-government armed Palestinian factions reportedly started to fight in Yarmouk and the Syrian air force backed them with airstrikes against the IS positions in that district, once home to 160,000 Palestinians and Syrians, most of whom fled the camp with the entry of the armed militants into the camp in 2012. Endit