Geneva-London, September 18, 2019
The London-based Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) called on the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to step up pressure on Syria’s government to begin the reconstruction of destroyed strucutres in Yarmouk Camp and allow the displaced families to safely return to their homes.
In a statement delivered on Wednesday as part of Agenda Item 4 of the council’s 42nd regular session, started in Geneva on September 9, PRC’s speaker recalled the days of heavy shelling and crippling siege in Yarmouk Camp for Palestine refugees, south of Damascus, that had suffered for nearly five years.
PRC said tensions had escalated following a large-scale military operation launched by the Syrian government forces and their Russian partners in 2018 in an attempt to recapture every corner of the camp, leaving scores of families homeless.
Citing field surveys conducted to assess the damage to Syrian cities caused by years of relentless bombardment, PRC indicated that 20% of Yarmouk’s homes and premises have been reduced to rubble, while another 40% sustained partial damage.
PRC warned that up to the moment, hundreds of families have gone homeless while the Syrian authorities continue to turn blind eyes to their appeals to safely gain access into their homes and retrieve their belongings.
PRC expressed deep concern about the alarming humanitarian condition endured by hundreds of families who have been displaced from and denied access into their homes in Yamouk Camp under the legal guise.
PRC referred to the set of laws and decrees enacted by the Syrian government in the war’s aftermath to expropriate property and, therefore, expel inhabitants, saying such a policy hardened social inequalities and collectively punished a largely poor segment of the country’s population, particularly Palestine refugees.
The list of laws referred to by PRC included Decree Number 10 passed by the Syrian government in April 2018 to benefit from real estate development at the expense of civilians’ rights. In addition, in 2012, the government passed Decree Number 63, empowering the Finance Ministry to seize assets and property from those who fell under Law Number 19, a counterterrorism law passed that year.
PRC said serious measures should be urgently taken in order to pressurize the Syrian government and all concerned parties to press ahead with the reconstruction of Yarmouk buildings, allow displaced families to safely get into their homes, and to rehabilitate civilians’ property rights in accordance with international laws and treaties.
Notes To Editor
The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) is an independent, non-partisan organization committed to advocating for Palestinian refugees, in accordance with the historical, political and legal basis of the right to return.
In July 2015, PRC was granted consultative status at the United Nations as a Non-governmental organization (NGO) in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), in recognition of its efforts in standing up for Palestinian human rights.
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