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SSM STATEMENT ON YARMOUK

A human tragedy has unfolded in the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus.

The Syria Solidarity Movement notes the following points regarding Yarmouk camp:

1 ) Yarmouk refugee camp was the largest gathering place for Palestinians in pre-war Syria: a centre for education, cultural pursuits, and political activity. However, there are many Palestinian refugee camps in Syria. The neutrality of all of them should be respected by all parties during the current crisis;

2 ) Palestinians within Syria should not be used as political pawns by any external actors during this crisis to score points by trying to influence international public opinion. Rather persons of good will, the world over, should demand the immediate repatriation of all Palestinian refugees to their proper homes and farms inside historic Palestine;

3) The government of Syria did not instigate the present tragedy in Yarmouk. Rather, foreign fighters violated the declared neutrality of the camp and evicted about 200,000 of Yarmouk’s residents and looted their homes; [references: here and here and here and here]

4) On February 5, 2014, Ambassador Anwar Abdul-Hadi, Director of the Political Bureau of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, blamed the foreign fighters for “embroiling the Palestinian refugee camps in the Syrian crisis that the organization has repeatedly declared non-interference in” and called on the foreign fighters to leave Yarmouk camp at once. [source]

We also note the following points regarding the government of Syria:

1 ) The government of Syria is part of the Resistance Front of countries and movements which oppose US and Israeli aggression against the states and peoples of Western Asia, including the Palestinian people – and that opposition is a major reason for the current Western and Arab League-sponsored covert and illegal mercenary war for regime change in Syria and the attempt to break up Syria into sectarian enclaves;

2 ) The government of Syria, of all the frontline states bordering Israel, provides the greatest support and freedom of political action for Palestinian resistance organizations;

3 ) The government of Syria affords Palestinian refugees within its borders higher legal, social, and political status than does any other government in the region;

4 ) The government of Syria, in response to the depredations of the foreign fighters, laid siege to the camp trapping some residents inside without the necessities of life. In response to calls from international civil society, and thanks to the Geneva 2 Conference in Geneva, the Syrian government has been able to deliver limited humanitarian aid on a daily basis to Yarmouk camp since February 1, 2014, and, as of February 5, 2014, has granted safe passage out of Yarmouk camp to 2800 of its remaining residents. [reference]

Talks are currently taking place between representatives of the Syrian government and the armed opposition about resolving the humanitarian crisis in Yarmouk camp.

The SSM, therefore, urges the foreign fighters to respect the policy of neutrality of Yarmouk and of all the other Palestinian refugee camps in Syria and to quit these camps at once.

We also urge all combatant forces to grant safe passage out of Yarmouk camp to Palestinian residents and, once the camp is free of foreign fighters, we urge the Syrian government to facilitate the return of the Palestinian refugees, to help rebuild their homes, and to deliver to them humanitarian assistance.

Finally, we urge the movement in solidarity with Palestine to help maintain the neutrality of the Palestinian camps in Syria by refraining from signing statements of support for the foreign fighters who have entered Yarmouk and any of the other Palestinian refugee camps in Syria.

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