Dozens of critically ill residents of Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp south of Damascus were evacuated Sunday, a Palestinian official said.
The Yarmouk camp has been largely under the control of Syrian opposition militants for months preventing supplies into the camp since September.
Palestine Liberation Organization official "Anwar Abdel-Hadi" said "the evacuation has begun of a number of critical humanitarian cases from the Yarmouk camp", adding that 50 people had left the camp so far, expecting the final tally to double that figure.
He added The siege has caused acute shortages inside the camp and more than 50 residents have reportedly died from hunger and lack of medical care.
Abdel-Hadi said the evacuations would continue daily until 600 residents in a critical condition, along with those suffering chronic illnesses and children and pregnant women, had left Yarmouk.
Meanwhile, an aid convoy, carrying some 400 food packages, was expected to enter the camp one day after a first batch of food aid was delivered, after an agreement was reached between representatives of Palestinian factions and militants inside the camp.
The aid was carried out in coordination with the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA, which provided food parcels that were delivered to the camp via an intermediary.
Anwar Raja, a spokesman for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, said hundreds of boxes of food stuffs entered the camp. He said much of the material was carried by members of PFLP-GC members and committees in the camp.
He stressed that "the process is moving slowly since they are being carried on the shoulder to avoid sniper fire".
Raja said the aim is to send 7,000 boxes for 7,000 families into the camp’s opposition-held areas. He added that more food supplies would be sent into the camp in the coming days and later medical supplies would be sent as well.
He said committees in the camp would hand over the food boxes to families by name so that opposition gunmen don’t take them".
Chris Gunness, spokesman for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, said it donated 200 food parcels Saturday after authorities had requested its support for the delivery.
He said in an email "in this instance, UNRWA is playing only a support role. Today’s effort is not an UNRWA convoy and UNRWA is not involved or engaged in the transport of the food parcels into Yarmouk or its distribution inside Yarmouk".
Shooting forced the United Nations to abort a delivery Monday of food and polio vaccines to Yarmouk after the Syrian government said it should use a circuitous and dangerous route.
The U.N.’s top human rights official" Navi Pillay" has warned that blocking "humanitarian assistance to civilians in desperate need may amount to a war crime".