The Plight of Yarmouk

05 May 2015

Yarmouk camp is a district of the city of Damascus that was established in 1957 and was populated by Palestinians displaced by Israel. Today, the Yarmouk camp, home to more than 18,000 civilians, is stuck between a rock and a hard place in a series of Kafkaesque, twisted events.

For almost two years, the Syrian regime imposed a suffocating siege on the camp, repeatedly bombing its residents and cutting supply lines for food and water. Now, thousands of civilians in Yarmouk, suffering from starvation and poverty, are under the mercy of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), who seized control of the camp in April of this year by allying with the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front.

Caught in between the barbarity of both ISIS and the regime, the plight of Yarmouk residents has been the focal point of many initiatives, activities and artworks.

Syrian and Palestinian activists created the hashtag #Yarmouk_will_never_fall, standing in solidarity with its residents and urging the global community to take action. Activist Rashid al-Hindi stressed the camp's perseverance, quoting V for Vendetta: "Yarmouk camp will not fall. Yarmouk is an idea and ideas are bulletproof." While artist Anas Salameh, with a touch of dark humor, wrote: "No injuries were reported in Yarmouk camp, because everyone there is dead."

A caricature showing the people of Yarmouk under the barrels of the Syrian regime, and biting on the knife of ISIS.
A caricature showing the people of Yarmouk under the barrels of the Syrian regime, and biting on the knife of ISIS.

Artist Samir Khalili pointed the finger at Palestinian leaders who abandoned the camp under the clutches of Assad and ISIS. "Four years ago, residents of the Yarmouk camp would fight amongst each other over pictures of Palestinian leaders. They would stop talking to one another over some poster, some slogan or festival of one of these leaders. Today, Palestinians are united on shredding these pictures apart and taking out all these leaders by force. While they are united on leaving us to die in silence."

Amid absolute negligence of this tragedy that coincided with Easter, artist Hani Abbas wrote: "The world is on vacation now, celebrating Easter; the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Palestinian Christ. The palestinian that the whole world is slaughtering today in the Yarmouk camp. The Yarmouk camp that is risen, truly it is risen."

On the ground, activists organized solidarity sit-ins condemning the siege and standing in solidarity with the camp. Sit-ins took place in Algeria, sofia and even in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinians are also besieged by Israel.


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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad