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Officials: Efforts to lift Yarmouk siege have failed

Jan. 12, 2014 10:41 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 13, 2014 1:42 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Efforts to send supplies into Syria's besieged Yarmouk camp are still futile, Palestinian officials said Sunday.

"All efforts to end the siege on Yarmouk camp have failed," the director of the Palestinian Democratic Union told Ma'an.

There was "an incident that occurred at the entrance of the camp, preventing the entry of supplies," Khalid Abu al-Haija said, without elaborating.

A PLO Executive Committee member said that the presence of militants in Yarmouk camp impeded the entry of supplies, due to a heavy exchange of fire.

Ahmad Majdalani said that Palestinian officials would continue their efforts to "save refugees in Yarmouk camp."

"We are in intensive contact with Syrian officials and militants in Palestinian camps in Syria in order to reach a solution and create a safe passage for the entry of relief supplies to Yarmouk," Majdalani said.

The lives of refugees are in danger, he said.

Earlier Sunday, Fatah Central Committee Member Muhammad Shtayyeh told Ma'an that the siege on Yarmouk would be lifted "tomorrow."

Also Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 43 Palestinians had died in Yarmouk camp as a result of starvation and medicine shortages throughout the past three months.

After rebels seized control of Yarmouk in December 2012, the camp became embroiled in the armed fighting taking place across Syria and came under heavy regime assault.

Regime forces eventually encircled the camp and in July imposed a siege on the camp, leading to a rapid deterioration of living conditions.

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

The Syrian conflict, which began as peaceful protests in March 2011 but developed into a civil war, has killed more than 130,000 people and prompted millions to flee their homes.

More than 760,000 Palestinians -- estimated today to number 4.8 million with their descendants -- were pushed into exile or driven out of their homes in the conflict surrounding Israel's creation in 1948.
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