Palestinian official talks about initial return of first group of Yarmouk camp residents

Palestinian people leaving the Yarmouk camp in Damascus due to the regime's shelling of the area - 2015 (MEE)

Palestinian people leaving the Yarmouk camp in Damascus due to the regime's shelling of the area - 2015 (MEE)

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The first group of the Yarmouk camp residents has resettled in their homes, according to an official in the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (PPSF) that is active in the camp.

Damascus governorate informed the residents that the first group of displaced persons from the Yarmouk camp will be permitted entrance to the camp at the beginning of this week, after the required measures are completed by the camp’s families, the Secretary-General of the PPSF, Khaled Abdul Majeed told the Russia Today (RT) news website.

Abdul Majeed added that 40 percent of the camp area is considered habitable, 40 percent needs restoration, and 20 percent of the camp’s-built area is uninhabitable and requires complete demolition. He also pointed out that the infrastructure arrangements are not fully completed.

The executive office in Damascus governorate has set three conditions for the return of the Yarmouk camp residents to their houses. According to the local Al-Watan newspaper, the conditions include properties’ structural safety, proof of ownership, and obtaining required approvals.

The number of objections submitted by residents reached about 2900, till 5 of last October, according to the executive office member in Damascus governorate Samir Jazairli.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) predicted in its report “the Emergency Appeal 2020” that most of the Yarmouk camp’s population (between 500,000 and 600,000 persons, of which 160,000 are Palestinian refugees) would remain in displacement.

The report also pointed out the limited access to the camp and the enormous level of destruction there.

According to the statistics of the Action Group for the Palestinians of Syria (AGPS), about 3,000 families from the Yarmouk camp live in Yalda town, while other 5,000 families live in Qudsaya city. Besides, hundreds of families from the Yarmouk camp are living now in Jaramana city and its camp, about 100 families live in Jdeidet al-Fadil town, which is linked administratively to Quneitra governorate, while 300 families live in Jdeidet Artouz town, as well as in Sahnaya town, Khirbat al-Ward village, and other areas.

About 5,000 families from the Yarmouk camp have taken refuge in Lebanon, in addition to hundreds of families who risked their children’s lives and boarded on “death boats” to reach Europe searching for security and safety and were distributed according to the follow-up and monitoring of the AGPS in more than 20 countries.

The Yarmouk camp currently hosts between 100 and 150 families, some of whom experienced the camp siege and lived there throughout the period from 2013 to 2018. While the other part is the families of the Palestinian factions, who fought alongside the Syrian regime.

The Yarmouk camp was established in 1957, south of Damascus, on an area of 900 hectares (9,000,000 square meters). The camp’s area was leased for 99 years by the General Authority for Palestinian Arab Refugees (GAPAR) and was not registered with UNRWA as an internationally sponsored camp.

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