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Some Food Reaches Starving Palestinians in Damascus

After blasting Israel for a nonexistent siege of Gaza for years, the world largely ignores deliberate starvation of thousands in Syria.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 1/19/2014, 6:16 PM

Members of family that fled Yarmouk
Members of family that fled Yarmouk
Reuters

The United Nations has confirmed that food aid has finally reached some of the Palestinians in the Damascus neighborhood where dozens have perished of starvation.

Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the U.N.'s Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said at the start of the weekend that 200 parcels of food aid had finally made it into the camp, reported Huffington Post.

That amount of aid, Gunness said, would provide one-third of the needed calories for 1,000 people for one month – far short of the level of need at a camp where some 18,000 people remain.

On Sunday, a Palestinian organization announced that they had managed to evacuate several dozen of the most critical patients at the camp, the Agence France-Presse reported.

In the past few days, the U.N. has made repeated attempts to reach the camp with convoys of aid, but had found themselves repelled, either by government agents who barred their trucks' movements, or opposition groups who refused them entry to the camp.

On Jan. 13, Gunness said in a statement, a convoy of aid trucks was forced to turn back after it encountered heavy mortar fire on its route to the camp. The U.N.'s incident report implied that both sides of the Syrian conflict were at fault, but blamed the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad for forcing its trucks to take a longer and more dangerous route into the camp.

"UNRWA’s position remains that Yarmouk must be open to safe, regular humanitarian access; that the civilian residents of Yarmouk must be granted free, safe movement; and that all sides to the Syria conflict must comply with their international obligations to protect Syrian and Palestinian civilians in Yarmouk and across Syria," Gunness said.

Syrian opposition activists said they have recorded the names of 68 people who have starved to death in recent weeks. While the exact death toll cannot be independently verified, disturbing video footage has been uploaded to the Internet, showing skeletal figures lying on stretchers and hospital beds. 

While the crisis in Yarmouk is getting some coverage in world media, it is hardly a leading headline. This, after years in which Israel has been singled out for blame for supposedly conducting a "siege" of Gaza. However, while food has been abundant in Gaza throughout the "siege," Assad is literally starving Palestinians to death.

Even an Arab TV host on Al Jazeera television noted in a recent program that Syria's government is treating its citizens far worse than colonial France or Israel ever did. "Why don’t they learn from the Israeli army, which tries, through great efforts, to avoid shelling areas populated by civilians in Lebanon and Palestine [sic]? Didn’t Hezbollah take shelter in areas populated by civilians because it knows that the Israeli air force doesn’t bomb those areas? Why doesn’t the Syrian army respect premises of universities, schools, or inhabited neighborhoods?” he continued, in a video shared by the Breitbart website.