U.S. Mission to the United Nations
Office of Press and Public Diplomacy
New York, N.Y.
April 7, 2015
Statement by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on the Situation in Yarmouk.
The United States strongly condemns ISIL’s advance on the besieged Palestinian community in Yarmouk, southern Damascus. Since entering Yarmouk on April 1, ISIL – reportedly with the support of the al Qa’ida-affiliated al-Nusra Front – has violently clashed with other armed groups and the Syrian regime, putting the remaining 18,000 civilians in the area at severe risk.
It is critical that all parties to this conflict protect civilians in Yarmouk and allow regular, uninterrupted humanitarian access to Yarmouk’s beleaguered population. Those living inside Yarmouk have already suffered from the regime’s violence and have lived under regime siege for nearly two years, deprived of desperately needed essentials, including food, potable water, and medical relief. Bombardment by the Syrian regime now creates an even more desperate situation, as ISIL reportedly controls Yarmouk’s only functioning medical facilities.
All parties must lift their siege of Yarmouk and allow for the safe evacuation of civilians in compliance with international law. Civilians who manage to leave Yarmouk must be granted immediate and safe passage; families must not separated; and departing civilians must not be detained.
While ISIL’s advances pose an added, acute danger to Yarmouk’s civilians, all besieged communities in Syria are enduring horrific hardship. More than 440,000 people are encircled in 12 separate locations across Syria. The terrible toll the war has taken on Syria’s civilians underscores the urgent need for a political solution to end the devastating conflict. It also highlights the profound need for the perpetrators of sieges and other atrocities against the civilian population to be held accountable.