As the worlds media attention has turned back on Syria as a crisis once again has struck the Yarmouk refugee camp, which is holding over 18,000 severely malnourished Palestinians as stated by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. He had sent an envoy to Damascus, the Syrian capital, to seek a solution:
“The violence that began in Yarmouk on April 2nd is not just continuing, it has intensified,” he said. “The world community must not stand by as a silent witness to what the U.N. Secretary General has warned could be a massacre. Yarmouk is at the lower reaches of hell. It must not be allowed to descend further.”
“A refugee camp is beginning to resemble a death camp,” Mr. Ban told reporters at the United Nations. He said residents, including 3,500 children, “are being turned into human shields.”
Yarmouk refugee camp has become the largest in the country, the war having had a lasting toll on the people living there, and now 60% or more has been taken over by the Islamic State, though it appears a resistance has also began to take shape inside the camp against the repression of IS.
The camp itself is situated less than 5 miles from the capital Damascus, making it a strategic area for IS. Yarmouk has been under siege, and the people survive on barely any food or water while fierce fighting continues, making living there desperate especially for young children.
At one stage, the camp held over 150,000 Palestinian refugees before the outbreak of war inside Syria. The camp was first founded back in 1957, housing also more than 650,000 Syrians.
The Palestinian leadership has called for an end to the repression against the Palestinian people within the Yarmouk camp.
A member of the PLO(Palestinian Liberation Organization), Ahmed Majdalani, was quoted by the BBC – stating that the Palestinian leadership and Syrian military were ready to collaborate to drive out the Islamic state who occupy over half of the camp.
Ahmed Majdalani was soon contradicted though, when a statement was made by the leadership saying:
“We refuse to be drawn into any armed campaign, whatever its nature or cover, and we call for resorting to other means to spare the blood of our people and prevent more destruction and displacement for our people of the camp.”
Sana, the official news agency in Syria, framed Mr. Majdalani’s position ambiguously, quoting him as saying “any future steps to be taken in Yarmouk camp will be coordinated between Syria and the Palestinians.”
Another member of the PLO(Palestinian Liberation Organization), says the BBC, stated that the Palestinian leadership and Syrian military were ready to collaborate and drive out the Islamic state who occupy over half of the camp.
Recent reports from the camp suggest that the Islamic state has been pushed back in some quarters but remain in control of large parts of the camp. The only working hospital in Yarmouk was occupied by IS fighters, launching attacks on Syrian military and Palestinian resistance positions, leading to shelling in and around the hospital by the Syrian military.
Residents from inside the camp have been struggling since the start of the conflict, but now thanks to an invasion of IS fighters life has become dire for many and unlivable in some parts leading many to flee Yarmouk.