Since the beginning of this year, residents in Yarmouk Camp for Palestinian refugees, in southern Damascus, have been suffering from a suffocating siege, imposing restrictions on their ability to exit the Camp in order to obtain food and supplies for their families.
As of July 2013, the siege has been intensified and civilians prevented from entering or exiting, or even getting close to the checkpoint at the entrance of the Camp. Meanwhile, Yarmouk residents have been completely cut-off from electricity for the past five months amidst intensifying shelling on different areas inside the Camp. This has resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe, leading to widespread dehydration, causing the death of some children, such as Jana Hassan, whose mother was prevented from returning to the Camp with food, and who then passed away having refused milk from other women.
In the absence of food, baby milk, medicine and medical supplies, this humanitarian catastrophe threatens to impact upon all seventy thousand Palestinian and Syrian civilians who remain in the Camp, most of whom are children, women and poor families who are unable to leave.
Several factors are contributing to the severity of the situation at Yarmouk Refugee Camp. The urban nature of the Camp, with its dense construction, prevents it from producing its own food. Unlike other besieged areas in Damascus and its suburbs, such as eastern Ghouta, the Camp is disadvantaged by its geographic location and access to natural and material resources. This has diminished its ability to resist the starvation imposed on it for eight weeks.
Some Yarmouk residents have resorted to eating dogs in order to survive. They have issued previous appeals demanding aid and an end to the siege but so far none of their pleas have been answered.
We appeal to human rights bodies and organizations, particularly the United Nations and specifically the UNRWA, which is ostensibly responsible for the livelihood of these refugees. We also condemn their deafening and shocking silence regarding the siege imposed on the Camp.
It is a crime that at the beginning of the 21st century, though human beings create deadly weapons, starvation remains the most heinous weapon of all, and amidst a terrifying silence by the rest of the mankind!