Stars Call on UN to Help Palestinian Refugees in Syria

On third anniversary of the conflict, some 30 - mainly British - celebrities press UN to intervene on behalf of Palestinian refugees in Syria.

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As the bloody Syrian conflict marked its third anniversary Saturday, a group of celebrities has called on the United Nations to take action to protect civilians in Syria, especially Palestinian refugees, AFP reported.

The group of some 30 stars includes actors Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson, musicians Sting, Roger Waters, Peter Gabriel and Annie Lennox, and the artist Tracey Emin. In their letter, they called on the Security Council and General Assembly presidents to ensure that emergency aid supplies could reach people besieged in parts of the country.

The missive was signed mainly by British cultural figures, and is backed by the UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, as well as HOPING, a charity that supports Palestinian refugee children, AFP said.

Nearly 500,000 Palestinians were registered as refugees in Syria before the civil war. UNRWA has said the majority of them are displaced from their normal homes.

According to UNRWA, the majority of the Palestinians registered as refugees before the Syrian crisis erupted three years ago are displaced from their homes. At the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus, most of the 170,000 residents have left, but some 40,000 are trapped inside, AFP said.

In their letter, the celebrities urged the UN, "tell us how they will create safe spaces and local ceasefires with immediate effect.

"People and relief must be let through. We want our voices to carry, on behalf of those now suffering in Syria, in order to prevent any more tragedy."

"It is now exactly two weeks since our last delivery of humanitarian aid to Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus. The situation there is desperate, so this appeal is timely and urgent," AFP cited UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness as saying. "The people of Yarmouk and civilians across Syria urgently need these UN bodies to heed the call of these celebrities.

"We are getting continued reports of widespread malnutrition, particularly among children, of women dying in childbirth for lack of medical care and people reduced to eating animal feed."

Emma Thompson poses for photographers in the winners room at the EE British Academy Film Awards held at the Royal Opera House on February 16, 2014, in London.Credit: AP

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