Council for MENA affairs (ForMENA) expresses serious concern regarding the violations and the breaches of the most basic human rights principles regarding Palestinian refugees in the Yarmouk Camp, Syria. Indeed, the suffering experienced by these refugees qualifies as crimes against humanity.
Over the past year, the Human Rights and General Freedoms Unit at ForMENA has been following reports published by international, regional, and Arab organisations as well as reports and observations of local human rights organisations in the Syrian Arab Republic. These groups have documented violations and crimes committed against Palestinian refugees living in Yarmouk Camp, the vast majority unarmed civilians. Key points are as follows:
- The entrapment of the unarmed Palestinian refugees of Yarmouk Camp in the heart of the conflict between armed groups in the Syrian Arab Republic and the prevention of international relief agencies from entering the camp has resulted in starvation and horrifying humanitarian misery for Yarmouk residents.
- More than 140,000 Palestinian refugees from Yarmouk have suffered forced displacement, many having moved across international borders into Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and elsewhere. These refugees suffer from a severe shortage of basic human needs, as do the nearly 20,000 Palestinian refugees still besieged in Yarmouk due to nearby clashes between opposing armed groups.
- Indiscriminate bombing and the destruction of the camp have subjected Yarmouk’s population to many crimes against humanity. Palestinian refugees have been targeted with forced detention and killing, without any of the principles that ensure the protection of unarmed civilians in armed conflict enshrined in the Geneva Convention on Human Rights.
The United Nations have endorsed an international protection system specifically for Palestinian refugees, intended to ensure increased protection host countries while the Palestinian refugees. In spite of this, however, after more than 65 years, Palestinian refugees throughout the diaspora are still suffering from a lack of international protection. This failure is in regard not only to the specific measures passed by the United Nations, but concerns international protection standards intended to protect all refugees.
ForMENA has continuous monitored the stances of Arab, regional and international organisations regarding the Yarmouk refugee camp crisis. These were highlighted by a press conference held by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, on 09.04.1 5, in which he called for an end to the crisis. However, there has been no significant change in the situation thus far, notwithstanding limited international interventions to provide aid and relief focusing on residents of the camp and displaced Palestinian refugees in neighbouring countries.
Furthermore, UNRWA has not met its the minimum requirements as stipulated by the United Nations, including the provision of basic humanitarian services for Palestinian refugees. UNRWA has attributed this to the failure of funders to deliver on their promises, which has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis of the camp’s residents and displaced Palestinian refugees in the surrounding countries.
The shortcomings of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and Palestinian Authority as a legal representative of Palestinians refugees in international forums must also be highlighted. The failure of these bodies to fulfil their mandates has hit the refugees hard.
ForMENA calls for the immediate evacuation of Yarmouk camp of armed groups and for international agencies to be allowed to enter the camp in order to provide basic humanitarian services. The camp should be recognised as neutral regarding the Syrian conflict and the immediate needs of the displaced Palestinian refugees inside Syria and neighbouring countries must also be met.
In order to achieve this, urgent action is needed on the following fronts:
- The provision of comprehensive international protection, so as to ensure legal, physical and humanitarian protection, as well as aid relief to displaced Palestinian refugees according to international law and relevant resolutions until the refugees can exercise their right of return in accordance with General Assembly resolution 194 of 1948 and the UN Security Council Resolution 237 for 1967
- The formation of an international fact-finding committee to document all crimes committed against unarmed civilians from the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk since the beginning of the crisis in December 2012 in respect to legislation passed by all relevant UN human rights bodies, especially the Human Rights Council.
- The PLO and PA must review their contradictory positions and approaches to the Yarmouk crisis and move urgently to stop preventing refugees displaced from Syria accessing neighbouring countries and to stop discrimination policies, policies, and progress in real time through the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the group Non-Aligned Movement to the General Assembly and the Security Council to provide emergency protection of Palestinian refugees and activation of this issue at international forums.
- We also recommend the consolidation of Arab and international aid agencies and international institutions efforts to work with the Palestinians refugees of the population of the Yarmouk refugee camp, both with the Who’s inside or with displaced them in the neighbouring countries, for the equitable distribution of aid relief to those affected, and the formation of a committee to coordinate tack aid with the Office of UNRWA ensure Relief and Employment of Palestine Refugees.
We in Council for MENA affairs (ForMENA) emphasize our continuity in following-up this human rights and humanitarian issue and we will form a collaboration with our partners of Arab and international institutions, alliances and pressure groups in order to activate this issue in all Arab forums and Regional and international, and will issue periodic data on this crisis until expire.
Brussels on April 15, 2015
Council for MENA Affairs (ForMENA)