Syrian regime removes Palestinian symbols from 'obliterated' Yarmouk camp

Syrian regime removes Palestinian symbols from 'obliterated' Yarmouk camp
2 min read
13 April, 2023
Palestinian activist groups said that the changes were aimed at "obliterating the identity" of the camp.
Prior to 2011, Yarmouk camp was the most populous Palestinian camp in Syria with over 100,000 residents. [Getty]

Palestinian activists reacted with outrage after the Syrian regime removed Palestinian symbols and changed the name of Yarmouk camp, a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus.

The name of the neighbourhood was changed from "Yarmouk camp" to "Yarmouk Street" during its renovation.

Pictures of famous Palestinians, such as Yasser Arafat, and national symbols were also erased from the camp.

Camp residents fear that the changes were made by Syrian authorities to "dilute the idea of the camp and obliterate its identity," according to the Action Group for Palestinians in Syria (AGPS).

The Yarmouk camp was subject to a brutal siege by the Syrian regime in 2014 which was described as "a horror story of war crimes, starvation and death" by Amnesty International.

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It was also subject to heavy aerial bombings by regime warplanes for its affiliation with the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) and later the so-called Islamic State (IS).

The regime retook the camp in 2018, but few residents have returned, facing significant bureaucratic obstacles.

To return to Yarmouk, residents must submit documents which prove ownership of their homes.

The resident and their families then must receive approval from security services before they are given a green light to return.

Many sections of the camp remain damaged and filled with rubble, according to AGPS, and public services to the areas are poor.

In January, the governor of Damascus gave residents one month to demolish damaged buildings that they own, or else the municipality would do it for them, at the expense of the owners of the building.

This risks dispossessing residents of their properties, the majority of whom are displaced from the camp and would have difficulty proving ownership.

Similar demolition campaigns have previously been conducted in other neighbourhoods of Damascus.

Buildings owned by displaced residents were particularly targeted by these campaigns.