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UN on the ground at Yarmouk camp in Syria

UN on the ground at Yarmouk camp in Syria

by Reuters

A U.N. official visits the Yarmouk camp for Palestinian refugees near Damascus Monday.

Filippo Grandi, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations' relief and development agency for Palestinian refugees in the near east, surveys the situation.

"What is very important now is that the access that we have to the people becomes a daily occurrence, simple occurrence and that progressively we can expand our reach because there are thousands of people still inside that have not received the assistance," Grandi said.

Rebel forces reached an agreement last week to make the Yarmouk camp a fighting-free area.

The U.N. says it has distributed more than 6,000 food parcels in Yarmouk since mid-January, a level it says falls well short of the needs of 18,000 residents after months of hunger and deprivation.

Humanitarian efforts in Syria have been hampered by fighting and by combatants on both sides, who often try to block deliveries to areas held by their opponents.

There have been rising reports of death and sickness from malnutrition by doctors in those areas.

Yarmouk was established in the Damascus suburbs in the late 50s to accommodate Palestinian refugees already in the area.