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Dublin: 9 °C Friday 20 April, 2018

TD raises plight of Palestinian refugees with Iranian government

Sinn Féin TD Sean Crowe says that Iran should step in and help 20,000 Palestinian refugees.

Palestinian refugees receive food aid from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees
Palestinian refugees receive food aid from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees
Image: AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas

THE CRISIS FACING Palestinian refugees in Syria has been raised with the Iranian government – by an Irish politician.

Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe, today raised the plight of Palestinians at the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, with the Iranian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Crowe is currently in Iran with as part of a Foreign Affairs Committee delegation and they met the Foreign Affairs Minister today.

Speaking after the meeting, Crowe said that the 20,000 refugees are “caught in the crossfire” between Syrian rebels and military.

“As rebel forces refuse to leave the camp it has been besieged by the Syrian army, which is creating a severe humanitarian crisis, as the residents have extremely limited access to food, medicines, and other vital supplies.

“Due to the fighting and the siege the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) has been unable to deliver any aid to the camp since last September, and at least 15 people have died of hunger.”

The raising of the plight of Palestinian refugees comes against the backdrop of Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Richard Bruton’s trip to the Gulf region. This visit was deemed “not the time or place” to raise human rights concerns.

UNRWA has said that the refugees are surviving in harsh conditions, many on a diet of stale vegetables, animal feed and cooking spices dissolved in water. Crowe said he is hopeful Iran can use its standing in the region to help solve the problem.

I raised the issue with the Iranian Foreign Minister to appeal to him to use his influence in Damascus to try and ensure the Syrian authorities resolve the situation peacefully and allow vital aid to reach these refugees as soon as possible.

Read: Government won’t say if Taoiseach has or will raise human rights concerns with Gulf states

Read: The human rights issues which aren’t being discussed on Taoiseach’s Gulf visit

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