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‘We Want to Live': Thousands Endure Hunger and Thirst in Syria's Besieged Yarmouk

Kafranbel stands in solidarity with Yarmouk, with a banner that reads: Yarmouk's stomachs are filled with dignity, you bastards. Source: The We Want to Live campaign's Facebook page

Kafranbel stands in solidarity with Yarmouk, with a banner that reads: “Yarmouk's stomachs are filled with dignity, you bastards.” Source: The We Want to Live campaign's Facebook page

This post was previously published on SyriaUntold.

As the Syrian tragedy mounts day by day, international attention increasingly focuses on the big picture of geopolitical and military clashes. Other issues go unnoticed despite their importance, such as the siege that the Palestinian camp of Yarmouk has been subject to for more than a year. The latest consequence of Yarmouk’s siege is thirst, which its inhabitants have been enduring for weeks. We Want to Live: Thirst Under Siege is the name of a grassroots campaign addressing this issue to try to bring it the attention it deserves.

The Yarmouk camp, located in the Syrian capital Damascus, was once home to 160,000 Palestinians and Syrians. Today, only 18,000 refugees still live in the besieged camp.

Launched by young Syrians and Syrian-Palestinians from inside and outside the camp, the campaign aims to raise awareness about the way the regime has been retaliating against Yarmouk. “Its inhabitants are pushed to die of starvation, thirst, and diseases,” one of the campaign’s organizers said to SyriaUntold. “The siege has been ongoing for a long time, but the situation has gotten even worse since the regime cut the water supply.”

Yarmouk has suffered partial siege since 17 December 2012, and total siege since 17 July 2013. At least 170 people have died of starvation, and more than 20,000 continue to endure the siege. The town has also suffered repeated attacks, air raids and shelling with heavy weapons on civilian buildings, schools, hospitals and mosques. 

To deal with water cuts, many in Yarmouk have resorted to carrying water from wells throughout the camp to their homes. In many cases, the water was not potable and caused diseases among those drinking it.

One of the We Want to Live campaign' designs. Source: the campaign's Facebook page

One of the ‘We Want to Live campaign’ designs. Source: the campaign's Facebook page

The We Want to Live campaign unfolded diverse manifestations of creativity focused on Yarmouk, from leaflets and banners reflecting on the tragedy of induced thirst and starvation, to plays being performed inside the camp. Aimed at igniting solidarity with the besieged population, activists took to the Internet to share pictures and messages from Yarmouk and encourage others to partake in the campaign. Hundreds of social media users photographed themselves in solidarity with the camp and shared the pictures on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtags #LetUsBe and #thirst_under_siege.

“We only want what we deserve: To live in dignity”, was one of the banners raised by the people of Yarmouk. The town of Kafranbel, renowned for its witty banners, reacted by sharing the following message, clearly addressed to the regime: 

Yarmouk’s stomachs are filled with dignity, you bastards.

This post was previously published on SyriaUntold.

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