Dozens Die Of Starvation In One Of Syria’s Largest Refugee Camps

Several refugees, including children, have starved to death in the Yarmouk camp in Damascus after Assad’s regime blocked food, water and medical supplies to rebel-held areas. WARNING: Graphic content.

1. Dozens of Syrian and Palestinian refugees, including infants, have died of hunger in the Yarmouk camp in Damascus which has faced a year-long blockade by the regime’s soldiers, according to reports.

2. While residents of Yarmouk claimed that 46 people have died of starvation, hunger-related illnesses and lack of medical aid since October 2013, the UN confirmed 15 deaths. A UN spokesman said restricted access made it impossible to know the actual toll.

Muhammad Hamed / Reuters

Jordanian and Palestinian demonstrators showed support for Palestinian refugees under siege in the Yarmouk camp during a solidarity sit-in front of the Red Cross offices in Amman on Jan. 4.

3. Several extremely disturbing images of starved children and the emaciated elderly in Yarmouk are being circulated on social media. Forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad’s regime have blocked the supply of food and water to the rebel-held area of Yarmouk.

AFP / Getty Images

Residents are finding it increasingly difficult to forage for food in already-inhospitable conditions. This year-long blockade by Syrian authorities reflects Assad’s broader government policy of starving out opposition areas as Syria’s tragic conflict continues.

4. “There are no more people in Yarmouk, only skeletons with yellow skin,” Umm Hassan, a 27-year-old mother of two children, told the Associated Press.

Muhammad Hamed / Reuters

Hassan told the AP that her 3-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son were rapidly losing weight without food.

“Children are crying from hunger. The hospital has no medicine. People are just dying,” she added.

6. A UN humanitarian aid convoy, carrying food on Jan. 13 for 6,000 people and medical supplies to Yarmouk, was forced to withdraw under fire, according to Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Khaled Al Hariri / Reuters / Reuters

Gunness said that the convoy, which was given clearance by Syrian authorities to reach Yarmouk, was forced to withdraw from entering the camp after bursts of machine gun fire erupted close to the trucks and a mortar exploded near the convoy.

While no one was injured in the firefight it was deemed unsafe for the convoy to proceed to the southern entrance of the camp which is an area of frequent armed conflict between the soldiers and opposition groups.

The Syrian authorities did not the give the UNRWA access to the government-controlled northern entrance to Yarmouk which Gunness said was likely to be more accessible and less risky.

In a statement, Gunness said, “This is an extremely disappointing setback for the residents of Yarmouk who continue to live in inhumanely wretched conditions. UNRWA remains undaunted by this frustrating failure and is already pressing Syrian authorities to support a further attempt to deliver humanitarian assistance to Yarmouk.”

7. Palestinians are expressing their solidarity with the nearly 18,000 trapped residents of Yarmouk and the inhuman conditions they have to endure.

AP Photo/Nasser Nasser

A Palestinian man at a protest in solidarity with the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on Tue. Jan. 14.

AP Photo/Nasser Nasser

At the Ramallah demonstration two Palestinian women carry banners and loaves of bread that reads, “We are all Yarmouk.”

Children protest in Zaatari camp in Jordan in solidarity with Yarmouk camp. One sign says “Down with the world.”

— Nader (@DarthNader)
Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters

Palestinian boys take part in a rally to show solidarity with Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Jan. 8.

The Arabic words on the bread read, “I am hungry.”

Gaza: Solidarity event with Al Yarmouk camp demands end to siege

— Demotix (@Demotix)
Muhammad Hamed / Reuters

At the Amman demonstration, Jordanian and Palestinian children bang on pots as they shout slogans in support of Palestinian refugees under siege in Yarmouk.

13. Horrifying accounts include the recent death of Isra al-Masri, an emaciated toddler. A teenager, Mazen al-Asali hanged himself last month after he couldn’t feed his starving mother. An elderly man was beaten to death by thieves looking for food and money.

AP Photo/Palestinians of Syria

This undated activist photo provided by the group Palestinians of Syria shows Israa al-Masri, a baby who later died of hunger-related illness on Jan. 11, 2014 in Yarmouk in Damascus, Syria.

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Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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