Statement by Ambassador Samantha Power on the Situation in Yarmouk

Samantha Power
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 

New York, NY

April 30, 2015

The United States strongly condemns the Syrian regime’s April 28 shelling and bombing of Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus, and expresses concern over today’s reports of ongoing violent clashes in the camp. The regime’s latest aerial bombardment further threatens the thousands of trapped civilians who have struggled under horrendous siege conditions for nearly two years. The military strikes also imperil humanitarian relief agencies’ ability to provide life-saving assistance to people in Yarmouk and the surrounding neighborhoods to which many Yarmouk residents have reportedly recently fled.

The Syrian regime must lift the siege of Yarmouk and allow UNRWA and other humanitarian partners immediate and unfettered access to vulnerable populations in need, both in Yarmouk and in the surrounding regime-besieged neighborhoods. All parties, including the regime, ISIL, al Nusrah and Aknaf Bait Al-Maqdis should afford safe passage to those civilians who choose to relocate temporarily; families must not be separated; and departing civilians must not be detained. The United States continues to call for independent, international monitoring of civilians’ passage to ensure it is safe and in line with international law.

Yarmouk is only one example of the conflict’s devastating impact on civilian populations. The Syrian regime’s continued siege, combined with the recent incursions by ISIL, has decimated entire neighborhoods in the camp and reflects more broadly the death, destruction and despair to which innocent Syrians have been subjected for more than four years. The international community must come together with a heightened sense of urgency to find a political solution that can end the terrible conflict.

To that end, the United States welcomes the United Nations’ efforts, under the leadership of Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, to foster dialogue between all parties to advance conditions for a genuine political solution in line with the Geneva Communique. We also urge the United Nations to work intensively to facilitate the safe relocation of civilians who wish to leave Yarmouk.