The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and its partners have been attempting for months to take desperately needed aid, particularly food and medicines, to Yarmouk, whose 18,000 residents have been trapped for months amid the ongoing conflict in Syria. “We are pleased to announce that UNRWA has secured the formal authorization for the transfer of 10,000 polio vaccines to Yarmouk Camp in Damascus,” said Chris Gunness, a spokesperson for the Agency.“This process has been completed without incident and the vaccination of thousands children in the camp is now underway.”Mr. Gunness thanked all those who made this “life-saving development” possible. “It demonstrates that access to Yarmouk and all civilians in Syria can be sustained and that given the chance, the UN can make a real difference in the lives of real people – babies, children, women, the sick, the elderly, the dying – who have endured unimaginable suffering because of this pitiless war.”UNRWA has also continued with food distributions in the camp, with over 800 parcels distributed yesterday. This brings to nearly 5,200 the total number of parcels delivered since 18 January, when the Agency was first permitted limited access to Yarmouk.The Agency has also continued to transfer food supplements, such as iron in tablet and drop form, multivitamins and rehydration salts.Prior to the armed conflict in Syria, which began in March 2011, Yarmouk – a suburb just south of Damascus – was home to over 160,000 Palestine refugees. In December 2012 and in the months since, conflict has caused at least 140,000 Palestine refugees to flee their homes in Yarmouk, as armed opposition groups established a presence in the area, with Government forces controlling the periphery.
“We rely on you, the world’s meteorologists to provide us with the scientific knowledge that leaders in government, business and society at large need to make informed choices,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared in a video message.“As the global thermostat rises, meteorological services are more essential than ever,” he continued. “I look forward to working with you to advance bold climate action which will improve the lives of people and the health of our planet.”The opening of the quadrennial session of the World Meteorological Congress was also greeted by astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti from orbit as she tweeted “captivating and powerful” images of the planet’s atmosphere but admitted that understanding it was “a challenge,” according a press release issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The Congress will now discuss the strategic role of the WMO in the post-2015 new global agenda on sustainable development and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk reduction while also deciding on the UN agency’s Strategic Plan, budget and office holders for the next four years.In addition, it will debate cross-cutting programmes to meet the needs of the world’s ever-growing urban areas, which will be home to 70 per cent of the world’s population by 2050 and increasingly susceptible to multiple weather and water-related hazards as well as environmental “stressors” like pollution. “It is a pivotal year for action on behalf of future generations,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud affirmed. “We have more than a responsibility. We have a moral duty to take action to limit climate change. “If we don’t do it we will be judged by our children and our grandchildren.”