Yarmouk 63: More Than A Radio

10 May 2015

The Palestinian tragedy seems to be condemned to painful repetitions: depopulation, refuge and catastrophe; year after year. Like Sisyphus, their story of refuge adds another cycles in Syria to those of 1948 and 1967. Al-Yarmouk Radio 63, which broadcasts from Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, that has been besieged for months, is one example. The radio has recently launched a show called “Radio 48”, which references the first catastrophe of 1948, when radio became the main tool to connect fragmented families and to bring their news across the many exiles they were forced into. Today, the show brings letters of support and solidarity with the besieged camp from all over the world.

The radio station was established by a diverse array of activists who worked in relief, media and politics, and who had stayed in the Yarmouk camp, despite the siege, hunger and bombardment. They refused any external funding of their initiatives, as they are not willing to submit to any conditions on their work. The team overcome the technical difficulties of broadcasting from a besieged town by using a technical team based outside the camp to manage the broadcast, while producing all the programming from inside the camp.

The radio was established to counter the growing politicisation and ideological-leanings of other media outlets as “most of these bias their news and reporting according to the political preferences of their workers or managers,” as recounted by one of the founders. The radio aims to be “closer to the civilian population besieged in Yarmouk, and to the civilian refugees everywhere else in the world.” Thus they present themselves as “an online radio speaking for the besieged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk, and broadcasting from the heart of the camp to deliver its news and stories, and to give a voice to its people. The radio is independent of any political or party influence, and is managed by a group of politically independent Palestinian youth who have worked in diverse fields in the camp.”

The difficult conditions at the camp forces the radio to broadcast online only between 6pm and midnight. Replays of the broadcast are scheduled, whenever possible, between noon and 6pm the next day. The radio has scheduled short news bulletins that are based on its workers’ first hand experiences in the camp and that of their extensive network of friends and sources. It also organises debates with political, cultural and artistic figures when the situation permits. The radio also aims to expand its network to other Palestinian camps around the country, and performs an auxiliary function of documenting human rights violations in Yarmouk.


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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad