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(Ismael Mohamad / United Press International)

Shelling and deaths in Syria’s Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp: UNRWA statement

Syria opposition activists have told media that 21 people were killed when shells hit the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in the suburbs of Damascus on 2 August.

The area is inhabited by a mixed population of Syrians, Palestinian refugees and others.

Today, Chris Gunness, spokesman for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, confirmed in a statement that, “Intensive armed engagements in Tadhamoun, Yalda, Hajar Al Aswad, Al Kaddam and other districts that share borders with Yarmouk have resulted in deaths and injuries of residents of Yarmouk, including Palestine refugees.”

Attempts to verify Palestinian casualties

Gunness said that “During the early evening of Thursday 2 August in an area on Palestine Street in Yarmouk there were several explosions, apparently caused by artillery shells, which damaged adjoining homes.”

“Initial, unconfirmed reports from informal sources suggest that some 20 people were killed and tens more were wounded,” Gunness said, adding, “UNRWA is in the process of verifying Palestine refugee casualties.”

Palestinians not being targeted

Despite the fact that refugee homes and UNRWA property have been damaged, Gunness stated that, “There is no indication that Palestine refugees, homes or properties are being targeted.”

UNRWA did not indicate who may have been responsible for the shelling, but appealed to “all sides to preserve human life and to act with restraint and in accordance with international law.”

Videos

These two videos posted on Youtube carry titles and labels saying that were taken in Yarmouk refugee camp after the 2 August shelling. The videos show bodies, injured people and blood on the ground.

جثث في الشوارع نتيجة سقوط قذيفة في مخيم اليرموك 2-8-2012.3

أشلاء في مخيم اليرموك بقذيفة هاون 2/8/2012

Full statement from UNRWA’s Chris Gunness

The impact of the armed conflict in Syria continues to be borne predominantly by Syrians. The Agency notes with great concern that Palestine refugee communities in Damascus and its suburbs are experiencing, more than ever before, the effects of the escalating armed conflict in Syria.  

This trend is illustrated by recent developments in and around Yarmouk, a densely populated suburb of Damascus where at least 150,000 Palestine refugees reside among approximately one million Syrians of all backgrounds.

Intensive armed engagements in Tadhamoun, Yalda, Hajar Al Aswad, Al Kaddam and other districts that share borders with Yarmouk have resulted in deaths and injuries of residents of Yarmouk, including Palestine refugees. Refugee homes and properties and UNRWA installations have also been damaged during the armed engagements. There is no indication that Palestine refugees, homes or properties are being targeted.

During the early evening of Thursday 2 August in an area on Palestine Street in Yarmouk there were several explosions, apparently caused by artillery shells, which damaged adjoining homes.

Initial, unconfirmed reports from informal sources suggest that some 20 people were killed and tens more were wounded.

UNRWA is in the process of verifying Palestine refugee casualties.              

UNRWA deplores the injuries and loss of life. The Agency strongly appeals to all sides to preserve human life and to act with restraint and in accordance with international law. This will ensure that across Syria, civilians, Syrians and Palestine refugees and their homes and properties, are spared the effects of the armed conflict in Syria.