DAMASCUS, Syria — A ceasefire has been reached between the Syrian government and Syrian rebel groups in the Palestinian refugee camp in Yarmouk. The region has experienced years of bloody conflict between rebel and government forces, leaving civilians and refugees in peril. Nearly 18,000 people have been besieged since July of 2013 and over 100 have starved to death.
The Yarmouk camp was first built for Palestinian refugees fleeing the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. When armed rebel groups moved into the area, the camp became a focus of heavy fighting, getting stuck in the crossfire.
In July of 2013, the Syrian government instituted a blockade, trapping the 18,000 inside without sufficient provisions.
BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet reported the harsh conditions in the Yarmouk camp. Resources such as food, water and medicine are scarce for the refugees there. This is because of the lack of accessibility to the areas due to the violence.
For example, Doucet reported that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East has not been able to distribute food packages because of constant shelling and conflict.
In May, Syrian military officials expressed their determination to reach an agreement. Although it took longer than expected, all sides have come to produce a detailed deal. The ceasefire aims to keep all heavy weaponry out of the camp, with all barriers taken down. There will also be an internal security force to ensure safety of the refugees.
The main entrance to the camp will remain open to stress transparency and confidence with the ceasefire. There are currently plans for new infrastructure projects within the camp.
The official SANA news agency reported that the Syrian government and the Palestinian Liberation Organization sponsored the deal. The rebel groups in the camp as well as pro and anti-Assad Palestinian factions are party to the deal as well.
Although previous attempts at a ceasefire have failed in the past, the Syrian government is optimistic that this deal will be upheld, ensuring the safety of refugees in the camp of Yarmouk.
– Cambria Arvizo