Weeks after declarations that aid would reach them, thousands of residents of the besieged Yarmouk section of Damascus are still struggling for survival.
The area, with a mainly Palestinian population has been cut off by the Syrian military since July after insurgents established a presence. Palestinian aid groups have made limited deliveries of assistance, but the amount is far too small for the more than 15,000 people still in Yarmouk.
A Syrian activist in Yarmouk, Rami al-Sayed, tells the Maan News Network:
We live in a big prison. But at least, in a prison, you have food. Here, there’s nothing. We are slowly dying.
Sometimes, crowds of children stop me on the streets, begging me: “For the love of God, we want to eat, give us food.’ But of course, I have no food to give them.”
We’ve been living off herbs, but these herbs are bitter. Even animals won’t eat them. And if you go to the orchards to pick herbs from there, to use them to cook soup, you’ll get sniped….
On the streets, all you see are emaciated people, their faces drained of any life. Sadness is everywhere.
The hollowed ribcage of Yarmouk reveals itself once more in a photograph being circulated on the Internet. The refugee camp, once a cultural and intellectual center of diasporic Palestinian life, has been reduced to a gaunt spectacle, collecting the ephemeral lamentation of cowards who ignored it then opted to obscure the culprits menacing it.
It has been around two weeks since the last armed Palestinians in the refugee camp forfeited their weapons in a deal struck with the Syrian regime. Syrian opposition fighter had already fled awhile before that. It was hailed as a truce; it more closely resembled a surrender. “Starvation or submission”, the cornerstone of Assad’s offensive.
In actuality, the sloganized tactic had a sinister clause. Submission never actually meant an end to the imposed blockage. The regime would demonstrate in Yarmouk, and elsewhere, that upon surrender the famine would endure. It seemed the real line should have always been “starve or surrender then continue to starve for your initial breach of submission”.
The weapons have been evacuated. The opposition fighters are gone. The siege continues. The checkpoints leading outside of the camp have opened only a couple of times since the “truce”. The majority remains trapped. The promised aid never arrived, save a few insufficient instances. The refugee camp has transformed into a cruel waiting room. No one’s name is ever actually called out, though everyone is assured that it will be any minute.
All that is left of Yarmouk is the enduring horror; its raspy sobbing telling us what we should have known all along. The devil doesn’t go away simply because you meet his demands.
Originally published on Beyond Compromise. Read the rest of the article on here