Aid efforts have begun for some of the thousands of Palestinians forced to flee from a refugee camp in the Syrian coastal city of Latakia earlier this week.
On Monday, UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, reported that about half of the 10,000 residents had left the camp and that several had been killed.
Their flight came amid an armed assault on parts of the city by Syrian government forces. Since March, authorities have been engaged in a violent crackdown on anti-government protests throughout the country.
Today, UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness confirmed that some of the displaced had now been located and aid efforts are under way, but the whereabouts of thousands more were still known. Gunness said:
UNRWA has mobilized a small team from staff living in Latakia, has established a temporary office outside the camp, and started to provide assistance to approximately 400 displaced families (roughly 2000 individuals), but it expects these numbers to increase in the next day or two. The Syrian authorities are cooperating with the distribution of cash and the work of UNRWA at the local level and in Damascus.
We have confirmed information that approximately 50 refugees are in a sports facility in Latakia. There are a further 150 families in Homs in central Syria, but UNRWA has no information at this time on most of the remaining refugees.
UNRWA’s information indicates that most of the inhabitants have indeed left and that there are only 5 to 10 vulnerable families remaining, unable to physically leave. UNRWA can confirm three Palestine refugee deaths in the camp, although there are reports of at least one more, as well as many injuries and damage to property.