Medical personnel in the regime-encircled Yarmouk camp demonstrated on Tuesday, calling on the international community to “save besieged Yarmouk camp” by sending in urgently needed medical aid to combat the spread of disease, in pictures posted online.
“The most dangerous enemies of humanity are starvation, fever and wars,” a young girl’s sign reads, quoting Sir William Osler, a famous 19th century Canadian doctor.
Yarmouk residents have known all three of these enemies over the course of the Syrian war.
“Every day in the Yarmouk camp, there are no fewer than five new cases of typhoid fever,” one of the demonstrators said in a statement recorded on video as doctors and other medical personnel gathered in front of the Palestine Hospital, carrying signs and Palestinian flags.
The hospital, staffed by volunteers, is one of the few operational medical facilities serving some 18,000 residents of the two-square-kilometer camp despite being struck by regime bombardments in the past, Palestinian satellite channel al-Quds reported last week.
One week before Tuesday’s demonstration, medical professionals in the camp launched the “More Disease and No Medicine” awareness campaign to inform aid agencies of the deteriorating health situation faced by Yarmouk residents amidst ongoing shortages of fuel, water, food and medicine resulting from an ongoing regime blockade.
Last week, the UN agency confirmed that multiple cases of typhoid had been diagnosed amongst those living in Yalda, Babila and Beit Sahm.
“The medical situation is very bad because there is no support whatsoever from any medical body,” a citizen journalist with the official Yarmouk Camp Media Office told Syria Direct on Wednesday. “Most of the medicines prescribed to the sick have been expired for a year and a half.”
After Islamic State [IS] fighters entered and took control of the camp this past April, aid organizations including UNRWA suspended or reduced their activities there, instead conducting humanitarian operations in the nearby Yalda, Babila and Beit Sahm neighborhoods, which are under unofficial truce with the Syrian regime.
Shortly after UNRWA stopped sending food parcels into Yarmouk itself early this past June, the European Al-Wafaa campaign sent an aid convoy for residents of the camp “containing 2,000 aid parcels, except unfortunately only 300 were distributed to the blockaded people inside Yarmouk,” the activist says, with the rest going to those displaced outside of the camp.
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said in a statement last week that the organization’s “priority remains the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians within Yarmouk,” adding that the aid group is working to “establish secure conditions” under which aid could be delivered.
“UNRWA: The medicine has not come yet,” one demonstrator reminded the agency on Tuesday.
As doctors in the camp call for that aid to come as soon as possible, the citizen journalist says that security concerns should not stop international aid agencies from responding. The Islamic State pulled out most of its fighters three months ago, adding that IS fighters’ activities in the camp have not been military but rather consist of “members visiting houses in the camp.”
IS presence “has become an excuse for the lack of medical assistance, service and aid.”
- Photo courtesy of Yarmouk Camp Tomorrow Will Be Better