Yarmouk Refugee Camp, whose population represents the largest concentration of Palestinian refugees in Syria, has paid a heavy toll for the crisis while the fighting in Syria remains ongoing for seven years now. The camp's houses, hospitals, mosques and schools, including UNRWA schools, were heavily damaged by frequent aerial and artillery bombing by various conflicting parties. Since December 2012, the Camp’s population has been subjected to a siege that has resulted in the death of about 200 refugees due to hunger and lack of medical care.
From the beginning of the crisis until June 2018, the number of Palestinian victims from Yarmouk refugee camp amounted to 1,392, most of whom died as a result of bombing, siege or torture to death in Syrian regime prisons. Members of the so-called Islamic State group controlled the camp during the past few years, and also bear responsibility for the killing of several refugees in the camp.
On 19 April 2018, the Syrian Army launched a large-scale military operation that lasted for 33 days, which only ended with the regime’s recapture of the camp following a Russian-brokered agreement between the parties to end the fighting. The conditions set for this agreement remain undeclared, with only leaks published by Russian media announcing the agreement itself.
Once concluded in May 2018, the military operations left great losses to civilian infrastructure, with almost 80% of houses in the camp nearing complete destruction. Several houses have also been reportedly looted in a systematic and organized manner. Responding to the situation, Chris Gunness, spokesperson for UNRWA, said: “Today [Yarmouk] lies in ruins, with hardly a house untouched by the conflict.”
Through testimonies and cases gathered from victims and eyewitnesses and documented in this report, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor aims to bring the grave humanitarian situation and rights violations committed in the camp to the attention of concerned human rights groups and researchers.