More than 85 percent of Palestinians living in Syria’s Yarmouk refugee camp have been displaced due to the violence that has gripped the country for the past two years, said the commissioner general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
“Out of 150,000 Palestinians living in Yarmouk, 130,000 have been displaced,” Filippo Grandi said during a press conference in New York Monday. “Only 20,000 [Palestinians] remain and are trapped in the area amid fighting between the opposition and government forces.”
He said that it has become extremely difficult to reach those in the camp, adding security is the main obstacle.
Another concern was that many Palestinians do not have many options as to where they can flee.
“Unlike Syrians, they have limited options. Jordan has stated it does not want more Palestinian refugees. They took about 5,000 and now have a population of about 2 million Palestinians,” Grandi said during the conference entitled Palestine Refugees in a Turbulent Middle East – A Forgotten Population. “One way open to Palestinians for escape is to [flee] to Lebanon, where life for Palestinian refugees is already difficultm, also where 32,000 have fled.”
The U.N. official also said small Palestinian groups have been taking sides in the Syrian conflict, however, he added: “The majority of the population wants to be left out of it.”
Grandi called for more Arab aid and said that UNRWA continues to work in Syria.
“We have the advantage of 3,700 staff members providing services to refugees,” he said. “We have lost five and 10 are missing… we do not know their whereabouts.”