Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Sunday, February 2, 2014


(January 30, 2014)

There is a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria that has been under siege for six months. No one can get in or out. It is in the middle of a fight between the Syrian rebellion and the Syrian army. The place is called 'Yarmouk'.

Lots of people in Yarmouk are starving to death. On January 30, a cease-fire was arranged at 4 p.m., so that UN workers could bring some food over. Malak Jaafar, BBC Arabic presenter, interviewed some of the people involved.

These are pictures of families rushing out to the collection place. However, the UN person that Malak spoke to said that they only had food to feed 1620 families, and that this is just a drop in the bucket.

This is Malak interviewing the UN man. He works for UNRWA - the UN Relief and Works Agency which is specifically designed to help Palestinians. He said that the UNRWA doctors saw a lot of disease, and that's there is lot of trauma besides physical sickness.

In order to get the food in, I think that maybe a humanitarian corridor was opened up, but the UNRWA man said: we don't need that. We need constant access!

 These ladies from Yarmouk say: everyone's hungry, there's no food.

Funerals for people who died of starvation or maybe of an illness resulting from starvation. I think they were saying that one or two people die of hunger in this camp every day.

Malak also spoke to another Palestinian official who helped arrange the cease-fire. He said that the shipment of food included bread and children's milk, and that 43 very sick people were taken out of the camp.

He further said that the Syrian government did everything it could to cooperate, helped out a lot, and helped to arrange for the aid to be sent in, but that there's people from the Free Syrian Army and terrorist groups in the camp hampering the progress.

He said: there were 16 groups connected to the camp, both Palestinian and Syrian groups. They needed all of them to sign a paper to agree to the cease-fire, but only 11 of the groups did.

Malak asked: do we know who those other five groups are?

The Palestinian official said: three are from al-Qaeda, with names like al-Nusra, Da-ash, and something else. Then there is a group called Jibhet Islamiya and one more.

Malak asked: if you needed to get in touch with those obstinate groups to arrange a cease-fire again in the future, can you do it?

The Palestinian official said: we have people at all times in the camp talking to all the groups. We do this because we don't want the siege to continue. 

He also said that during the food distribution, there was firing of gunfire, and one of the people living in the camp, who volunteered to help out, was killed.

Malak asked: and the gunfire came from where?

And he said: from the direction of the armed groups.

Definitely lots and lots of perspectives on this, but I like the BBC Arabic because you really hear from a wide range of people.

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