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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/10/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Amnesty International says Syrian people face 'catastrophic humanitarian crisis'

As the civil war in Syria intensifies, thousands face the specter of starvation. According to Amnesty International, the withholding of food for civilians is being used as a weapon of war by the Syrian government. At least 128 refugees have died at the besieged Yarmouk Camp in Damascus as a result, according to a new report.

The lack of food forced Al-Ghouta residents to kill a lion from Damascus Zoo for food.

The lack of food forced Al-Ghouta residents to kill a lion from Damascus Zoo for food.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/10/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Syria, starvation, Yarmouk Camp, Damascus


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The report says that thousands of people still trapped there face a "catastrophic humanitarian crisis." The organization says that families have been forced to forage for food in the streets and risk being killed by snipers.

Yarmouk camp, which is estimated to house around 17,000-20,000 Palestinian and Syrian refugees, has seen some of the worst fighting. There were reports of fresh fighting on the edge of the camp last week.

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

The camp has been without electricity since April of last year. Most of the hospitals have closed after running out of even the most basic medical supplies.

"Syrian forces are committing war crimes by using starvation of civilians as a weapon of war," Philip Luther, Amnesty's Middle East director says.

"The harrowing accounts of families having to resort to eating cats and dogs, and civilians attacked by snipers as they forage for food, have become all too familiar details of the horror story that has materialized in Yarmouk."

Describing the siege as "collective punishment" of the civilian population, Luther called on the Syrian government to allow humanitarian agencies immediate access to the camp.

Residents told Amnesty that they have not eaten fruit or vegetables for months. At least 60 percent of people in Yarmouk are said to be suffering from malnutrition.

Created as a refuge for Palestinians fleeing the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, Yarmouk became a focus of heavy fighting in Damascus in late 2012 when opposition fighters moved in.

The majority of the 180,000 Palestinians at Yarmouk fled  and around 20,000 have been trapped inside since government forces cut it off in July last year.

The United Nations Security Council agreed a resolution calling for all parties involved in the conflict to immediately lift sieges, but this has so far failed to lead to an improvement in the situation of besieged civilians.

The U.N. made some aid deliveries but these were halted when a truce between rebels and pro-government Palestinian militants in the camp broke down.

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