Al-Qaeda Returns to Damascus Refugee Camp, Stalling Food Aid

Efforts to get food aid into the massive Yarmouk Refugee Camp in Damascus have been hit-or-miss for months, but there were high hopes when the Palestinian residents announced the withdrawal of al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra from the camp.

It didn’t last long, as Nusra returned in force over the weekend, shelling the camp and launching attacks on the Palestinian leadership. Now, the food shipments are stalled yet again.

UN officials say that chaos in the camp had prevented food shipments since February 27, and now the return of Nusra means they might not see any more food for quite some time.

That’s bad news for the civilians still trapped in the camp, as for months they’ve faced off-and-on shipments of humanitarian aid, so irregular that some have actually died of malnutrition. Before the civil war, Yarmouk was nominally a refugee camp but treated like just another neighborhood, with Syrians as well as Palestinian refugees living there and coming and going as they pleased. Now, the camp is locked down, with an eye on keeping Nusra from using it as a staging ground for attacks on the capital.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.