An estimated 3,000 children are among the 12,000 civilians in a town near Damascus enclosed by Syrian regime forces. Save the Children spokespeople said the rebel-controlled Khan Eshieh area was completely surrounded, with the one entrance and exit closed by heavy shelling and snipers. The last road to the nearby town of Zakia, known locally as "the Death Road" due to the high risk of travelling on it, was the way the refugees were getting food, medicine and supplies.
Sonia Khush, head of Save the Children's Syria program, told the Independent that despite the supposed ceasefire across the country, people are living in terror with bombardment and the depletion of most medicine, fuel and flour.
"The roads and access to the camp must urgently be reopened and vital humanitarian aid immediately allowed in," said Khush.
A local aid group said three young males were shot dead while trying to escape recently from the camp.
Jafra Foundation representatives who provide education, support and aid in the camp, said basic supplies were dwindling and the situation was expected to worsen.
The Independent reported that a Facebook page claiming to represent the local council has documented weeks of intensified barrel bombings and shelling blamed on the Bashar al-Assad's regime in Khan Eshieh. It said five helicopters unloaded more than 20 bombs as well as "sporadic bombardment" with mortars and heavy artillery. Casualty figures were not available.
Khan Eshieh has been home to more than 20,000 Palestinians since they arrived in the 1940s, going on to settle and work as teachers, civil servants and on surrounding farms. Since coming under the control of opposition groups in the Syrian civil war, the town reportedly has been a place of sporadic fighting and bombardment, leaving civilians and United Nations staff among the dead. After nearly three years under partial siege, the number of inhabitants has fallen to approximately 12,000 people - a quarter of them children - Save the Children said.
All main roads between the camp and Damascus have been closed since 2013, and military checkpoints were installed to prevent people from entering and leaving. Only one doctor and one dentist are believed to remain in the camp, while residents report an urgent need for water purification tablets to reduce the growing risk of disease.
Chris Gunness, a spokesperson for the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), said refugees have been exposed to direct armed conflict, violence and humanitarian deprivation. "We need immediate and sustained humanitarian access."