04/07/2015, 00.00
SYRIA
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UN calls for humanitarian access to the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp

by Paul Dakiki
The situation for the camp’s 18,000 refugees has been described as "beyond inhumane". Once opposed to Assad, the camp has seen groups realign with al-Nusra side with the Islamic State group, and Palestinians and the Free Syrian Army work with the Syrian army.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – The United Nations Security Council has called for humanitarian access to the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus.

The situation has deteriorated since 1 April, when Islamic State (IS) group launched an offensive, and occupied much of the area.

The al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda linked group described as a "moderate Syrian opposition” in the West, was working with IS.

Palestinian militiamen opposed to the Syrian government and some Free Syrian Army fighters are instead leading the fight against IS militants.

The chair of the 15-member Security Council, Jordan's ambassador Dina Kawar, called for the "protection of civilians . . . humanitarian access . . . and life-saving assistance".

One UN official described the situation for the 18,000 refugees there as "beyond inhumane".

The Yarmouk camp is eight kilometres from the capital. Its seizure by the Islamic State group is considered a prelude to an attack against Damascus.

At the same time, the refugees can be used as human shields against air strikes by the government helicopters.

According to some scholars, the Yarmouk attack shows that Jihadists are not interested in Palestinian nationalism.

“It has not escaped Palestinians’ attention that jihadists are not fighting Israel, and that some, the al-Nusra Front for instance, receive Israeli assistance,” Prof Samir Saul, who teaches the history of international relations at the Université de Montréal (Canada), told L’Orient-Le Jour today.

In the past, Palestinians in Yarmouk backed the Syrian regime. However, in 2012, led by exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, the camp turned against Assad (as Mashal became friends with Qatar).

The irony is that the Syrian army is now defending the Palestinians still living in the camp.

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