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Save Yarmouk: Protests in a starving camp

DYING INSIDE: “By God, we have nothing to do with […]

15 January 2014

DYING INSIDE: “By God, we have nothing to do with the two conflicting parties,” screams a young man in an Arabic dialect mixed between Syrian and Palestinian.

Palestinian refugees from the Yarmouk camp in Damascus staged a protest Wednesday, demanding a six-month long Syrian government siege imposed on the camp be lifted.

“The sound of explosions were heard in Yarmouk refugee camp,” the Union of Palestinian Camps Network News Union reported Wednesday, adding that they are believed to be a result of “Assad’s gang targeting the camp and al-Rija square with rockets.”

Recent weeks have witnessed varied reports of starvation in the camp, where more than 100,000 Syrians and Palestinians lived before the war began. The Palestinian News Network reported two citizens had starved to death in the camp on Tuesday and 48 in the camp overall, while the Christian Science Monitor reports 28 residents have died of starvation.

Official news agency SANA cited the Palestinian Labor Minister as denying reports that Syrian-Palestinian citizens were starving due to government siege.

Instead, “armed terrorist groups again blocked the entry of humanitarian relief convoys to the Yarmouk refugee camp,” he told official government news agency SANA. “The Syrian government has provided all the necessary facilities and protection campaigns for the caravan until it reaches a decided location.”

The protests in Yarmouk camp coincide with a meeting of United Nations donor groups in Kuwait Wednesday, where Kuwait, the United States and Saudi Arabia have pledged $1.13 billion for the U.N.’s humanitarian efforts in Syria. The U.N. has demanded a record-breaking $6.5 billion for this year to respond to the humanitarian crisis.

Human-rights advocacy group Human Rights Watch called for the donor nations gathered in Kuwait to pressure the Syrian government to allow the distribution of aid in besieged areas.

“We want the camp to be safe,” says the young man in the video, who said he had not seen his father in a year. “Have mercy on us,” he said.

Syrian government forces have imposed a blockade on a number of opposition-controlled areas in the Damascus countryside, including the Yarmouk camp in Damascus and in Homs.

Video courtesy of the Palestinian Camps Network News Union.

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