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Yarmouk Palestinians crushed between ISIL and Assad

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Yarmouk Palestinians crushed between ISIL and Assad



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On the periphery of the Syrian capital, Yarmouk Camp, now largely destroyed, is in fact a city, with buildings, not tents.

As a camp, it was established in 1957, becoming the home to some 200,000 of the total number of Palestinians displaced during the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and who fled to Syria.

With the civil war breaking out in 2011, Yarmouk split into factions on the side of the Assad regime, and factions that are against it.

Damascus felt it had championed the cause of the Palestinians. Now it bombed the refugees.

The first war planes attacked in 2012. A handful of Palestinians were killed. The Syrian Army encircled Yarmouk and has blockaded it since then.

From the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian authorities condemned this.

Many Palestinian militant Islamists joined rebel brigades against Assad’s forces.

It got worse in 2014, when the crossfire expanded with encroachment into Syria of the radical Islamic State movement (ISIL).

The refugee population in Yarmouk was trapped in between.

ISIL, its ambition to capture Damascus, pressed its offensive, tightened its grip. This April 1st, it closed for the kill.

In the latest fighting, hundreds more civilians fled the camp, around 30 were killed, others were wounded.

Unverifiable reports include snipers, abductions and executions.

Christopher Gunness, an official with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) referred critically to outside non-intervention in the Syria crisis from the beginning.

Gunness said: “Yarmouk has been the result of political failure, and those political failures are the result of disunity. We need political differences by the main powers in the world to be put aside. They need to come together to save lives because the credibility of the international system is at risk. It must not let down the people of Yarmouk and beyond.”

The advocate called it “a hell hole”, with the refugees “in their battered homes too terrified to move.”

UNRWA’s latest estimate is down to 18,000 still there, including 3,500 children.

A few kilometres from the heart of Damascus, they have been living in complete deprivation, according to the UN “at extreme risk of death.”


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