Yarmuk Refugee Camp and the Syrian Uprising: A View from Within
With all of Syria engulfed since spring 2011 in spiraling destruction, the fate of the country’s small Palestinian population receives scant attention. This report focuses on that community through the lens of Damascus’s Yarmuk camp, the largest Palestinian concentration in the country. Starting with the 2011 Nakba and Naksa Day demonstrations, the report provides a detailed account of how the camp has lived the turmoil, highlighting in particular its determined efforts to preserve its neutrality and the factors that ultimately led to the fatal entry of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) into Yarmuk in December 2012. The ethnographic portrait of Syria’s Palestinians before the uprising, their life in the camp (including the role of the factions), their privileges and unique integration, makes what the author sees as the destruction of the community even more tragic.
Nidal Bitari is a Syrian Palestinian journalist from Yarmuk refugee camp in Damascus. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political sociology from Damascus University. He left Syria for Lebanon in December 2011, and then came to the United States in April 2013. From the time he left the camp, he has been in almost daily contact with friends and colleagues in the camp. He would like to thank the editors of JPS for their encouragement in writing this report.