Palestinian refugees in Syria starving to death, report

yarmouk camp bombed by Syrian warplanes
A worst-case scenario is unfolding in Syria, and Palestinian refugees — particularly in Yarmouk refugee camp — are paying a heavy price for Syria’s cruel war. They are starving, although there can be no justification, nor logistical explanation, for why they are dying from hunger.

Spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Chris Gunness, told AFP that “at least five Palestinian refugees in the besieged refugee camp of Yarmouk have died because of malnutrition, bringing the total number of reported cases to 15,” since September 2013. Other estimates, especially those reported by local residents, say the number is significantly higher.

The camp, which is located south of Damascus, had once housed nearly 250,000 Palestinians that included 150,000 officially registered refugees. Three years of a brutal war later, Yarmouk is now nothing but ruins, and houses only around 18,000 residents who couldn’t escape to Lebanon, Jordan or elsewhere.

Reporting for the BBC from Damascus, Lyse Doucet quoted: “Aid officials in Damascus recently told me ‘The gates of Yarmouk were slammed shut in July’ and almost no aid has been allowed to enter since then.”

palestinians starving in SyriaA minor Palestinian group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), has tried to control Yarmouk on behalf of the Syrian government, an act that the refugees rejected. There has been a semi-consensus among Palestinians that they should not be embroiled in Syria’s war. However, the warring parties — the Syrian government, the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other Islamic groups — desperately tried to use every card in their disposal to weaken the other parties. The result has been devastating and is taking place at the expense of innocent refugees.

Aside from the 1,500 reportedly killed Palestinians and thousands more wounded, the majority of the refugees are once again on the run, although in more perilous circumstances. According to a statement by UNRWA on 17 December, “of the 540,000 Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA in Syria, about 270,000 are displaced in the country, and an estimated 80,000 have fled. 51,000 have reached Lebanon, 11,000 have identified themselves in Jordan, 5,000 are in Egypt, and smaller numbers have reached Gaza, Turkey and farther afield.”

Not that other Arab countries have proven kinder than Syria, for the UN agency reports that “those who have reached Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt face risky legal limbo compounded with living conditions so difficult that many decide to return to the dangers inside Syria.”

Yarmouk has been at the heart of that tragedy. The refugee camp was established in 1957 to shelter thousands of refugees who were expelled from Palestine at the hand of Zionist militias in 1947-48. Despite the fact that it was located in Syria, Yarmouk remained close to the pulse of the Palestinian tragedy, as hundreds of men were killed fighting against the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Although Palestinians in Syria were generally treated well, if compared to the very poor standards set by other Arab countries, thousands of men found themselves victims of occasional political purges of the Syrian government. An example of this followed the 1983 fallout between late Syrian president Hafez Al-Assad and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

But the most recent disaster is the worst to strike the refugee camp. In December 2012, rebels of the FSA tried to gain control over the camp. Fierce fighting ensued, followed by aerial bombardment of Yarmouk by government airplanes 16 December. Dozens were reportedly killed, and thousands fled for their lives.

Despite the obvious signs of danger surrounding the Palestinian presence in Syria, only then did the Palestinian leadership attempt to negotiate a special status for Yarmouk so that the stateless Palestinians were kept out of a conflict that was not of their making. Some Palestinian factions were used by other regional powers to declare political stances regarding the conflict in Syria. The refugees should have never been used as fodder for a dirty war and all attempts at sparing the refugees have failed.

The failure has been across the board. Typically, the so-called international community is at the forefront of this shameful episode. “There’s deep frustration in the aid community that a world which came together to deal with Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal cannot do the same when it comes to tackling a deepening humanitarian crisis,” reported Doucet, quoting an aid official: “I have never seen a humanitarian crisis on this scale which does not have a Security Council resolution.”

The same could be said of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah that is chasing after another “peace process” mirage that is surely doomed to fail. Why hasn’t PA President Mahmoud Abbas put all of his frivolous talks and appointments on hold to lobby the international community to save Yarmouk?

The disgrace hardly ends there, for some in the Palestine solidarity movement have ceased to think of the Palestinian refugees’ right of return as an issue that is at the heart of the Palestinian struggle for freedom. They only mobilise around the same issues that are located within the territorial and political parameters imposed by the Oslo Accords. According to that logic, Palestinians in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and so on, are not a top priority for action and mobilisation, even if they are killed by the hundreds or starve to death.

By paying greater attention to Palestinian refugees in Syria, one is hardly calling for ignoring the horrible reality under which the Syrian people continue to suffer. But Palestinian refugees have no legal status, no political representation, no serious international support, no leadership truly concerned by their plight, no place to go to nor place to return to. They have nothing, and now they are starving.

There can be no rationale to explain why the Syrian government and the rebels insist on embroiling the Palestinians into their war, which is accumulating into an assortment of many war crimes that refuse to end.

The international community and Palestine solidarity groups everywhere must place Palestinian refugees on the top of their agendas. Food should never be a weapon in this dirty war, and Palestinians should never be starving to death, no matter the motive or logic.

Ahram

  • 5thDrawer

    Doucet, quoting an aid official: “I have never seen a humanitarian crisis on this scale which does not have a Security Council resolution.”
    Ask Putin about that one.
    And in Tripoli Lebanon, my citizen-friends become malnourished while refugees receive some relief. Go figure. It’s NOT just Palestinians.
    But it’s nothing some of us didn’t see coming a long time ago … the concept of ‘SEIGE’ is heavy in these lands. And there’s few left there trying to grow some food anyway. Dangerous to walk across a field. First thing cut off to farming communities was irrigation – as they buried the dead. The ‘city folk’ find a bit of flour to make bread with sometimes … then line up for a bombing run from Assad’s planes.
    If not actually starved to death, the malnourishment of children at growing ages will leave them stunted in many ways. Where is any ‘future’? It’s only a fertile landscape for religious propaganda in undeveloped brains.

  • 5thDrawer

    Doucet, quoting an aid official: “I have never seen a humanitarian crisis on this scale which does not have a Security Council resolution.”
    Ask Putin about that one.
    And in Tripoli Lebanon, my citizen-friends become malnourished while refugees receive some relief. Go figure. It’s NOT just Palestinians.
    But it’s nothing some of us didn’t see coming a long time ago … the concept of ‘SEIGE’ is heavy in these lands. And there’s few left there trying to grow some food anyway. Dangerous to walk across a field. First thing cut off to farming communities was irrigation – as they buried the dead. The ‘city folk’ find a bit of flour to make bread with sometimes … then line up for a bombing run from Assad’s planes.
    If not actually starved to death, the malnourishment of children at growing ages will leave them stunted in many ways. Where is any ‘future’? It’s only a fertile landscape for religious propaganda in undeveloped brains.

  • cook

    why assad killing pals?

    • IraniAngel

      because they are an invented people.. or however you usually put it

      • cook

        That is a nazi thing to say

        • Hind Abyad

          So you must be a Nazi..the “invented” people is part of your evangile.

  • cook2half

    why assad killing pals?

    • IraniAngel

      because they are a invented people.. or however you usually put it

      • cook2half

        That is a nazi thing to say

        • Hind Abyad

          So you must be a Nazi..the “invented” people is part of your evangile.

  • doron

    4 hours and 4 comments
    where are all the pro pali commentors?

    • cook

      Arafat shaped his propaganda well

      • doron

        don’t know what to say cook..i can’t picture us doing that to anybody ,not to mention one of our own

        • barabie

          Try picturing what you have done and are doing to gaza.

          • 5thDrawer

            Food was allowed, barabie. What Hamas did with it, we can’t say.
            Mind you, some had to push to get it through sometimes. 😉

          • doron

            corection.food & fuel were allowed and still are.while egypt closed rafah israel keeps supplying gaza

          • 5thDrawer

            I seem to recall they could not run the waste treatment facility for a few months because of lack of fuel for electricity … so it went raw into the Med. Hmm ??

          • doron

            i can’t imagin gaza in blackout and no lashing at israel
            israel is keeping it’s responsibilities to civilian population.food and fuel for heating,electricity goes in.
            during alexa storm, hamas askd for help in water pumps and disel, do you think they were turned down?
            i don’t know the incident you talk about 5th, mybe i’m wrong but i don’t remember it

          • 5thDrawer

            Hi Doron: It’s something like Tripoli … and Whatever minimal treatment is done, requires electricity – but of course that good old ‘population growth’ thing goes on, right? I suppose the condoms would float out too …..

            From Reports in BBC – 2010
            “We love life. We like sport and surfing, but the problem is the media which portrays Palestinians as just terrorists and bad people but this is not true.”
            The waves can be bad though.
            The sea around Gaza is heavily polluted with at least 60 million litres of raw and partially treated sewage being pumped into it every day.
            “We have to choose the days carefully when we surf,” says Mr Abu Jayab, “and some parts of the beaches are cleaner than others.”

            End of 2012 – From a General Report
            Power cuts are an every day occurrence in Gaza. It gets most of its power from Israel together with further contributions from Gaza’s only power plant and a small amount from Egypt. However, this is less than its current needs which have been growing at a rate of 10% a year.
            Many homes have their own generators, but fuel is extremely expensive to buy.
            Najla, the aid worker, said: “We get at least like eight hours cut a day…Sometimes it’s eight hours on and eight hours off.
            “In the winter when there is high demand for heating, we get less hours.”
            Gaza has little rain and no major fresh water source to replenish it underground water supplies which are not large enough to keep up with demand.
            The UN describes the situation for water and sanitation as “critical”.
            Salt from the sea has seeped into underground supplies raising salination levels above acceptable levels for drinking water.
            Availability of clean water is below the global WHO standard of 100 litres per person per day.
            Treatment of waste water and sewage is another headache. Some 90,000 cubic meters of waste water or sewage is pumped into the Mediterranean Sea every day creating pollution, public health hazard and problems for the fishing industry.

            (Maybe not as bad as Sidon Mountain which just kills all fish that pass too close – but one should check all the currents in the Med before making statements 😉

          • barabie

            No not all food was allowed. Things like pasta and cattle were not allowed in. Plus most medicine was banned

          • 5thDrawer

            Pasta and beef – bad for cholesterol. If they got veggies it was much healthier. 🙂

          • 5thDrawer

            All goes to The Med anyway.
            Isn’t it GREAT to know WE ALL SHARE when we go to the beaches? :-)))

          • doron

            first, about all the food, i don’t think its up to israel to hold and not hold pasta,if it’s not an isolated case i can’t imagine any thing we have against pasta. we love the italians
            second, about the medicine, i read nnow a report about that and even though its from Betelem it must have truth in it so tip of the hat for you.
            i have to say though that t annoys me to see the blame soly on israel

    • …some guy

      I have heard the saying that if you have 1 true friend in a lifetime, consider yourself lucky! do the pals really have any true friends ? or just common ground with Israel haters? this picture is beyond disturbing and it is only one picture.
      there has to be a million more of even worse outcomes yet it is so unfashionable and uncool to talk peace but so glamorous to stand and support your favorite team while only crocodile tears are shed for the victims in the path of all this evil.

    • IraniAngel

      No1 is pro-pali, not even the palis themselves

      • doron

        it doesnt make sense angel.the hostility to israel is built around and against the “zionist entity” taking the palis land.if no one cares about them then why do you hate us?

        • IraniAngel

          donno why ppl h8 u but as a charlie’s angel i dont h8 u bcoz u r not worth h8ing n the arabs r not worth backing.. u can all kill bill 1 another 4 all i care

          • 5thDrawer

            Are you working from a stupid cell-phone?? :-))))

          • IraniAngel

            is it annoying???

          • 5thDrawer

            Yah .. but I could read it, Charlie.

          • IraniAngel

            thats my boss, i’m just his angel 😉 hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh :DDD

          • doron

            fair enough,wish everybody were so honest

          • IraniAngel

            in dat case u shud start wid urself. errybody knows dat de zionists r de worst liars. dat arial shoron 4 1 was a terrorist n a liar, may he burn in hell. still not h8ing u, i’m just stating facts

          • doron

            everybody knows is not stating facts just repeating what you heard
            every militry man is feard by enemies and every politician is a lier.

  • doron

    4 hours and 4 comments
    where are all the pro pali commentors?

    • cook2half

      Arafat shaped his propaganda well

      • doron

        don’t know what to say cook..i can’t picture us doing that to anybody ,not to mention one of our own

        • barabie

          Try picturing what you have done and are doing to gaza.

          • 5thDrawer

            Food was allowed, barabie. What Hamas did with it, we can’t say.

          • doron

            corection.food & fuel were allowed and still are.while egypt closed rafah israel keeps supplying gaza

          • 5thDrawer

            I seem to recall they could not run the waste treatment facility for a few months because of lack of fuel for electricity … so it went raw into the Med. Hmm ??

          • doron

            i can’t imagin gaza in blackout and no lashing at israel
            israel is keeping it’s responsibilities to civilian population.food and fuel for heating,electricity goes in.
            during alexa storm, hamas askd for help in water pumps and disel, do you think they were turned down?
            i don’t know the incident you talk about 5th, mybe i’m wrong but i don’t remember it

          • 5thDrawer

            Hi Doron: It’s something like Tripoli … and Whatever minimal treatment is done, requires electricity – but of course that good old ‘population growth’ thing goes on, right? I suppose the condoms would float out too …..

            From Reports in BBC – 2010
            “We love life. We like sport and surfing, but the problem is the media which portrays Palestinians as just terrorists and bad people but this is not true.”
            The waves can be bad though.
            The sea around Gaza is heavily polluted with at least 60 million litres of raw and partially treated sewage being pumped into it every day.
            “We have to choose the days carefully when we surf,” says Mr Abu Jayab, “and some parts of the beaches are cleaner than others.”

            End of 2012 – General Report
            Power cuts are an every day occurrence in Gaza. It gets most of its power from Israel together with further contributions from Gaza’s only power plant and a small amount from Egypt. However, this is less than its current needs which have been growing at a rate of 10% a year.
            Many homes have their own generators, but fuel is extremely expensive to buy.
            Najla, the aid worker, said: “We get at least like eight hours cut a day…Sometimes it’s eight hours on and eight hours off.
            “In the winter when there is high demand for heating, we get less hours.”
            Gaza has little rain and no major fresh water source to replenish it underground water supplies which are not large enough to keep up with demand.
            The UN describes the situation for water and sanitation as “critical”.
            Salt from the sea has seeped into underground supplies raising salination levels above acceptable levels for drinking water.
            Availability of clean water is below the global WHO standard of 100 litres per person per day.
            Treatment of waste water and sewage is another headache. Some 90,000 cubic meters of waste water or sewage is pumped into the Mediterranean Sea every day creating pollution, public health hazard and problems for the fishing industry.

            (Maybe not as bad as Sidon Mountain which just kills all fish that pass too close – but one should check all the currents in the Med before making statements 😉

          • barabie

            No not all food was allowed. Things like pasta and cattle were not allowed in. Plus most medicine was banned

          • 5thDrawer

            Pasta and beef – bad for cholesterol. If they got veggies it was much healthier. 🙂

          • 5thDrawer

            All goes to The Med anyway.

          • doron

            first, about all the food, i don’t think its up to israel to hold and not hold pasta,if it’s not an isolated case i can’t imagine any thing we have against pasta. we love the italians
            second, about the medicine, i read nnow a report about that and even though its from Betelem it must have truth in it so tip of the hat for you.
            i have to say though that t annoys me to see the blame soly on israel

    • Geo

      I have heard the saying that if you have 1 true friend in a lifetime, consider yourself lucky! do the pals really have any true friends ? or just common ground with Israel haters? this picture is beyond disturbing and it is only one picture.
      there has to be a million more of even worse outcomes yet it is so unfashionable and uncool to talk peace but so glamorous to stand and support your favorite team while only crocodile tears are shed for the victims in the path of all this evil.

    • IraniAngel

      No1 is pro-pali, not even the palis themselves

      • doron

        it doesnt make sense angel.the hate for israel is built around and against the “zionist entity” taking the palis land.if no one cares about them then why do you hate us?

        • IraniAngel

          donno why ppl h8 u but as a charlie’s angel i dont h8 u bcoz u r not worth hating n the arabs r not worth backing.. u can all kill bill 1 another 4 all i care

          • 5thDrawer

            Are you working from a stupid cell-phone?? :-))))

          • IraniAngel

            is it annoying???

          • 5thDrawer

            Yah .. but I could read it, Charlie.

          • IraniAngel

            thats my boss, i’m just his angel 😉 hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh :DDD

          • doron

            fair enough,wish everybody were so honest

          • IraniAngel

            in dat case u shud start wid urself. errybody knows dat de zionists r de worst liars. still not h8ing u, i’m just stating facts

          • doron

            everybody knows is not stating facts just repeating what you heard
            every militry man is feard by enemies and every politician is a lier.

  • Guest

    Israel has been blamed for starving the Palestinians in Gaza. However, it is actually worse now for the Palestinians in Syria.

    • 5thDrawer

      MUCH worse.

      • IraniAngel

        yir, but who cares???? i know i dont…

  • Guest

    Israel has been blamed for starving the Palestinians in Gaza. However, it is actually worse now for the Palestinians in Syria.

    • 5thDrawer

      MUCH worse.

      • IraniAngel

        yir, but who cares???? i know i dont…