United Nations officials have demanded access to Syria's Yarmouk camp with the intention of reaching refugees who were trapped after "Islamic State" (IS) militants captured large parts of the area in an offensive launched on April 1.
On behalf of the members of the UN Security Council, Jordan's ambassador Dina Kawar asked for "the protection of civilians in the camp for ensuring a humanitarian access to the area including by providing life-saving assistance."
The ambassador also informed reporters of the "grave situation" of the 18,000 refugees who were stranded in the camp and said the Council was ready to consider measures to provide "necessary assistance."
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official Anwar Abdul Hadi meanwhile said that about 2,000 people were able to leave the camp over the weekend and that evacuation was continuing. People were being hosted in government shelters, he added.
UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) representative Pierre Krahenbuhl told the Security Council that the situation in Yarmouk was getting "more desperate than ever." Refugees were living on rations of 400 calories a day, he said, compared to the mandatory 2000 calories set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
IS jihadists attacked and seized vast areas of the camp, around seven kilometers (four miles) from Damascus, last Wednesday. At least 26 people including civilians and IS fighters were killed in the violence.
Yarmouk was home to more than 150,000 Syrians and Palestinians, but its population has been shrinking rapidly after civil war broke out in Syria in 2011.
mg/gsw (dpa, AFP)