Refugees living in the Yarmouk camp in Damascus return home after they temporarily had to leave because of fighting. The picture is from December 2012. Many Palestinians had to leave for good since then. (Photo AFP).Palestine refugees in Syria are being killed, injured and displaced in greater numbers than ever before, as the armed conflict continues to overwhelm refugee camps across the country. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) now estimates that approximately 235,000 Palestine refugees have been displaced inside Syria and is particularly concerned about news that was confirmed today on the displacement of some 6,000 Palestinians from Ein El Tal on 26 April, a Palestine refugee camp some 12 kilometres from Aleppo in northern Syria.
Months of sporadic armed engagements intensified last week, culminating in armed opposition groups occupying Ein El Tal camp in the early morning hours of 26 April and immediately declaring it a “military zone”. Exchanges of fire ensued with forces loyal to the government who were present inside the camp. Mortars and small arms were reportedly used, damaging and destroying refugee homes and contributing to dozens of fatalities and injuries, including among Palestinian civilians. In the aftermath of the fighting, a number of young Palestine refugee men were reportedly taken away by the armed opposition groups who now remain in Ein El Tal camp, where a situation of high tension prevails.
Events in Ein El Tal mirror the tragic experience of other Palestine refugee camps – Dera’a Camp, Yarmouk in Damascus City and Husseiniyeh, Khan Eshieh, Sbeineh, and Seida Zaynab Camps in the wider Damascus area. Ein El Tal is the latest manifestation of a cycle of catastrophic violence in which the conduct of all parties has transformed Palestine refugee camps into theatres of conflict in which heavy weapons are used, resulting in severe suffering for Palestinian civilians.