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Activists Demand Reactivating the Yarmouk Camp Local Committee

Activists Demand Reactivating the Yarmouk Camp Local Committee

Tuesday, 26 January, 2021 - 11:00
A family on a bike riding across the rubble at the Yarmouk camp, south of Damascus, Syria (EPA)

Palestinian refugees struggling to go back to their homes at Syria’s Yarmouk Camp have expressed their frustration with recent regulatory measures staged by Damascus, saying they constrain their return.

In October 2020, the Damascus governorate had announced that it will be allowing locals who meet required conditions to return to their homes in Yarmouk. Three prerequisites were listed and they covered safety, proof of ownership and qualifying approval.

Despite the decision to allow civilians back, many reported that authorities have failed in rehabilitating the area.

“They (authorities) have done nothing but sell us promises. Only one or two machines are effectively working to clear out the rubble. Also, power and sewage networks remain out of service,” an upset Palestinian refugee from the camp complained under the conditions of anonymity.

“If matters continue the way they are, it will take a year or two before we can go back home,” they told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Many of Palestinian refugees who were driven out by violence from their home’s at Yarmouk are grappling with the challenges of affording rent and living expenses.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), on its own expense, had managed to clear and reopen main roads in the camp. Independent volunteers, mostly locals, swept the debris blocking branching avenues.

“Efforts offered by the governorate are nearly negligible,” the refugee stressed.

Located over seven kilometers south of the Syrian capital, Damascus, Yarmouk rests on an area of 2.11 square kilometers.

Since the 60’s, the camp was run by a local committee empowered by an official decree. But during the course of the civil war, Damascus governorate annexed the Yarmouk municipality.

Syrian government forces officially regained control of Yarmouk in May 2018. In late 2012, armed opposition factions had overrun the camp.

A number of activists have demanded the Damascus governorate gives up its management of public services at Yarmouk after having failed miserably in the last two years, the Action Group for Palestinians of Syria reported.

Activists stressed the need for restoring the "Yarmouk Camp Local Committee" to its previous status whereby it is directly affiliated with the Ministry of Local Administration. The reactivation of the committee will help speed the return of displaced refugees to Yarmouk.

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