Emaciated Yarmouk camp victims attract world attention

Nadeen Shaker , Sunday 12 Jan 2014

Grassroots Palestinian campaign puts focus on dire conditions in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, demanding immediate action

Jordanian and Palestinian children shout slogans in support of Palestinian refugees under seige in Syria's main refugee camp Yarmouk in Damascus for over 170 days due to the ongoing violence in Syria, during a solidarity sit-in front of the Red Cross offices in Amman 4 January, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

A series of solidarity protests and rallies were held Saturday aimed at ending a siege on a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria.

Protesters in the occupied Palestinian territories, Jordan, Lebanon, Algeria, Canada, Germany and France gathered under the banner of "Save Yarmouk Camp", a campaign that aims to “save the camp and its people from siege, hunger and murder,” according to its Facebook page.

Yarmouk Refugee Camp, located on the outskirts of Damascus, is home to 148,500 Palestinian refugees since 1957.

Tweets by Palestinian activist Mariam Barghouti indicated that Palestinian youth had attempted to close down the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) headquarters in Ramallah. Later, Barghouti tweeted: “PLO HQ closed as demanded by youth in Yarmouk Refugee Camp, demanding more action from them.”

Living conditions in the camp have become dire, especially after the Syrian army laid siege on towns and neighbourhoods captured by Syrian rebels.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the deaths of 41 Palestinians in the camp due to malnutrition and a dearth of medical aid.  

According to an Al-Jazeera report, women have died in labour and many residents have resorted to eating animal feed in the absence of food aid.

Pictures of emaciated, scrawny bodies, victims in the besieged camp, filled social networks and the campaign’s pages Saturday.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) called for immediate intervention and for a humanitarian corridor to be opened.

Save Yarmouk Camp was founded by a Palestinian activist group from the occupied Palestinian territories and abroad called Qawum (Resist).

“We reject the political harassment of the organisation and will continue to reject the PLO, and we will continue with our actions until the siege on the camp is lifted,” one of the organisers told Ahram Online.

The campaign has attracted worldwide media attention, organisers say.

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