Skip to main content

In Pictures: Life and death in Yarmouk

Moving images underline how life in the Yarmouk camp in Damascus is a daily struggle for survival for the abandoned Palestinians there
A woman carries a child through the Yarmouk camp. Hundreds have died since a siege on the camp began (MEE/ Laila Benallal)

"We want our freedom back";  "We want these crimes against us to stop"; "I haven't seen my parents in more than a year, I don't have any idea where they are or if they are still alive"; "We are going from place to place, from camp to camp; this is a second Nakba! (catastrophe)"; "We want to get out of this cage." These were the type of harrowing accounts of life in the Yarmouk camp heard by photographer Laila Benallal during a visit there before this week's ceasefire.

About 18,000 Palestinians have been besieged in the camp since last July, with starvation claiming an estimated 100 lives.

On Monday, it was reported that fighters were due to withdraw "within hours" from the camp, following a truce struck on Saturday evening to end deadly fighting.

The devastation felt by those in the camp is reflected in the voices Laila heard: "I haven't had a drop of water for days"; "My wife has cancer and is dying slowly without any medical care"; "I saw my neighbour dying last week, he hadn't had food for weeks like many of us, you must have seen the photo of  him, it went viral on social media"; "Hunger shouldn't be used as a weapon against us."

Laila was there with a group of volunteers from several European countries to witness first-hand the immense suffering of the Yarmouk residents and how vital the support of two European NGOS, Help Syria Through the Winter and Al Wafaa Campaign, has been to the camp.