Friday, February 28, 2014

Destruction and Starvation in Palestinian refugee camp in Yarmouk, Syria [See update]

Harry's Place just published an absolutely horrendous photograph from a Huffington Post article about the horrors being visited upon the people living in the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk, in Damascus (the photograph is below - click on it get the full impression). Update - apparently this was photoshopped. See photos below that come from the UNRWA website.

From the Huffington Post article:
A sea of hungry, haunted faces looks out from a massive queue that snakes through the bombed out Yarmouk refugee camp in southern Syria. In the photo, taken on Jan. 31 of this year in Damascus' Palestinian refugee camp, men, women, and children are on line for aid that includes desperately needed food and medical supplies. There are more than 18,000 people in the Yarmouk camp, and many are starving to death. 
The camp was originally built in 1948 to house Palestinian refugees fleeing the Arab-Israeli war. Since the start of the Syrian conflict the area has become a humanitarian disaster zone as fighting between government and rebel forces hinders attempts to deliver food and medical treatment to those within. 
Dozens have died in the camp from malnutrition, with reports of those trapped in Yarmouk sometimes resorting to eating grass and cats in order to survive. Aid from the United Nations has trickled in slowly since January 2014, sometimes only 60 parcels a day, and when it does arrive it results in the harrowing scenes such as the one you see in this photo. 
The United Nations has set up a special site to donate to the people of Yarmouk, which you can visit here.
For more information on what is happening in Yarmouk, I found many articles on the Electronic Intifada site - Search for Yarmouk. The Ma'an Palestinian news agency just published an AP article (using the same photograph) about apocalyptic scenes in Yarmouk refugee camp. The New York Times also published an AP article on Yarmouk with the same information, but as part of a longer article about Al Qaeda in Syria, and without this shocking photograph.

The AP article says:
On Tuesday, the chief of the United Nations relief agency supporting Palestinian refugees spoke of a rare visit he paid a day earlier to the besieged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk in Damascus. 
Filippo Grandi, the Commissioner General of UNRWA, said the extent of damage to the refugees’ homes in Yarmouk was shocking. “The devastation is unbelievable. There is not one single building that I have seen that is not an empty shell by now,” he said in neighboring Beirut. 
The state of those still in the camp was even more shocking. “It’s like the appearance of ghosts,” he said of the people coming from within Yarmouk near a distribution point he was allowed to reach. “These are people that have not been out of there, that have been trapped in there not only without food, medicines, clean water — all the basics — but also probably completely subjected to fear because there was fierce fighting."
Yarmouk, located in southern Damascus, is the largest of nine Palestinian camps in Syria. Since the camp’s creation in 1957, it has evolved into a densely populated residential district just five miles (eight kilometers) from the center of Damascus. Several generations of Palestinian refugees have lived there. 
Grandi said around 18,000 of the camp’s original 160,000 Palestinian refugees are still inside Yarmouk.
Gene, of Harry's Place, has donated to the UN refugee agency that is trying to help the people of Yarmouk (link above), which I would urge people to do too.


Apparently the above picture was Photoshopped (Gene has updated his post to reflect that). See here: for some genuine photos of the UN's distribution of food in Yarmouk. Here are several, which are heart-rending enough:

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