Yarmouk camp in Damascus, Syria, was a place of refuge for Palestinians fleeing their country – until Syria itself became engulfed in violence.
Yarmouk camp in Damascus, Syria, was a place of refuge for Palestinians fleeing their country – until Syria itself became engulfed in violence. Now, 20,000 refugees – both Syrian and Palestinian – are trapped within the besieged camp. Aid was not allowed to enter for over 200 days between 2013 and 2014, and without food or medicine, tens of refugees have died of starvation or in childbirth. There were reports of families being forced to eat grass to survive, or slaughter cats and donkeys for meat. Recently, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) – the branch dedicated to supporting the Palestinian people – was able to access the camp and deliver thousands of food parcels. They also gave 10,000 children polio vaccines, after the deadly disease broke out and began spreading through Syria. Islamic Relief joined a number of other agencies to sign a statement demanding access to Yarmouk camp before the Syria peace talks in January 2014, so we welcomed the news of UNRWA’s access. As recent shocking images of crowds queueing to receive aid have swept through the media, Islamic Relief is giving the necessary funding for UNRWA to provide 10,070 families with food parcels, including rice, milk, meat and pasta. We are also enabling them to supply almost 5,000 families with hygiene kits (including soap, toothpaste and disinfectant), and more than 13,700 children and women with nappies and sanitary items.