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PLO secures 'safe passage' agreement for Yarmouk refugees

Nov. 11, 2013 3:59 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 13, 2013 12:08 P.M.)
DAMASCUS (Ma'an) -- Zakariya al-Agha, a member of the executive committee of the PLO, said Monday that "the coming hours will determine the future of Yarmouk camp" as a Palestinian delegation seeks to ensure safe passage for Palestinians displaced by fighting in and around the Damascus refugee camp.

Al-Agha said in a statement that Monday afternoon will witness the transfer of weapons and armed men out of Yarmouk camp and the inflow of workers to rebuild the camp and make it ready for the return of refugees.

"We called on the Syrian government to open a security passage for residents to allow for medicine and food to pass urgently to people and to rebuild the camp," said al-Agha, who is also the head of the Palestinian delegation currently visiting Syria.

"Our request was approved and in the next few hours it will be implemented in coordination with the representative committee of the camp."

Fatah leader Abbas Zaki told Ma'an in mid-October that Yarmouk's population of 250,000 has dwindled to 18,000 after two and a half years of conflict in Syria.

At least 1,500 Palestinians have been killed in the ongoing Syria conflict, and around 250,000 Palestinian refugees have been forced to leave their refugee camps in Syria due to violence in the country.

Prior to the conflict, 600,000 Palestinian refugees lived in Syria.

Between 700,000-800,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes inside Israel during the 1948 conflict that led to the creation of the State of Israel, and today their descendants number around five million, spread across the world.
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