Yarmouk siege continues despite truce


August 14, 2014

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THE PIANIST: Palestinians besieged in Yarmouk Camp may not have regular access to food, water and medical supplies, but thanks to Ayham al-Ahmad, they have music.

In the picture above, widely circulated on social media this week, al-Ahmad plays the piano while shattered buildings, the results of months of bombing and intense fighting, loom behind him.

On June 21, a group of opposition fighters who had previously organized the fighting from Yarmouk reached a truce with the regime. The truce was supposed to have cleared the camp of combatants and allowed humanitarian aid into Yarmouk.

Despite the agreement, the Syrian regime has repeatedly blocked humanitarian aid into Yarmouk Camp. While armed independent Palestinians militia regulate security inside Yarmouk, the regime still controls the entrances to the camp.

“A number of groups control Yarmouk Camp now,” Abu Jaafar, an activist based in Yarmouk, told Syria Direct Thursday, “but the largest group is the Aknaf Beit al-Maqdes Brigade, which is mostly made up of Palestinians.”

“There was no UNRWA distribution of humanitarian assistance in Yarmouk today, August 13,” said UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness in a statement Wednesday.

“This is the fourth consecutive day that UNRWA has not been authorized to distribute in Yarmouk, with clashes affecting the area throughout the period.”

At one point, the regime had blocked food distribution in Yarmouk from humanitarian aid organizations for more than six consecutive weeks, from May 23 to July 7.

“What remains in the camp is a lack of permanent food and water, and extended blackouts.” Before the war, Yarmouk had a population of 160,000 Palestinians and Syrians. Now the camp is home to only 18,000.

-August 14, 2014

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