Yarmouk Camp

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Yarmouk
اليرموك
Jafra Palestinian Youth Center in Yarmouk Camp
Jafra Palestinian Youth Center in Yarmouk Camp
Yarmouk is located in Syria
Yarmouk
Yarmouk
Location in Syria
Coordinates: 33°28′N 36°18′E / 33.467°N 36.300°E / 33.467; 36.300Coordinates: 33°28′N 36°18′E / 33.467°N 36.300°E / 33.467; 36.300
Country  Syria
Governorate Damascus Governorate
Established 1957
Area
 • Total 2.11 km2 (0.81 sq mi)
Population (2004)
 • Total 137,248
Area code(s) 11

Yarmouk Camp (Arabic: مخيم اليرموك‎) is a 2.11-square-kilometre (0.81 sq mi) district of the city of Damascus, populated by Palestinians, with hospitals and schools. It is located 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from the center of Damascus and inside the municipal boundaries but when established in 1957 was outside the surrounding city. Yarmouk is an "unofficial" refugee camp; it is home to the largest Palestinian refugee community in Syria. As of June 2002, there were 112,550 registered refugees living in Yarmouk.[1]

During the Syrian civil war, Yarmouk camp became the scene of intense fighting between the Free Syrian Army and the PFLP-GC supported by the Syrian Army government forces.

Overview[edit]

Yarmouk was established in 1957 on an area of 2.11 square kilometres (0.81 sq mi) to accommodate refugees who were squatters.[1] Though it is not officially recognized as a refugee camp, road signs leading to this sector of the city read “Mukhayyam al-Yarmouk”, meaning “Yarmouk camp”.[1] Administratively, Yarmouk is a city (madina) in the Damascus governorate.[2]

Over time, refugees living in Yarmouk have improved and expanded their residences. Currently, the district is densely populated, with cement block homes and narrow streets. Two main roads are lined with shops and filled with service taxis and microbuses that run through the camp.[1] According to the BBC, although Yarmouk "is identified as a camp, there are no tents or slums in sight. It is a residential area with beauty salons and internet cafes."[3]

Living conditions in Yarmouk appear to be better than in Palestinian refugee camps in Syria and residents of the camp are made up of many professionals, such as doctors, engineers and civil servants, as well as many who are employed as casual laborers and street vendors.[1]

There are four hospitals and a number of government-run secondary schools. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) operates 20 elementary schools and eight preparatory schools in the camp and sponsors two women's program centers. There are three UNRWA health care centers in Yarmouk, two of which received upgrades in 1996 with contributions from the government of Canada. In 1997, six schools were upgraded with contributions from the government of the United States, and a kindergarten was built with funds from the government of Australia. In 1998, the UNRWA was also able to construct a health center funded by the government of the Netherlands.[1] There is another Health Center whose expertise is devoted to prevention and treatment of Thalasemia. The Center was built in 2009 thanks to funds provided by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) .

During the Syrian civil war, Yarmouk camp became the scene of intense fighting between the rebel Free Syrian Army and its Palestinian ally Liwa al-Asifa on one hand and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC) supported by Syrian Army government forces on the other. Subsequently the Syrian Arab Army has besieged the camp, leading to many leaving the area and a significant deterioration in conditions for the more than 18,000 Palestinian refugees and other Syrians remaining inside the camp, whom the UN describes as living in "complete deprivation". [4]

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