LONDON – Over the past four years, Syria has been the scene of terrible suffering and savagery. But the recent assault on the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus by Daesh (Islamic State) fighters has shocked and appalled even the most hardened observers.
The capture of the camp leaves 18,000 refugees at risk of slaughter, unable to access food, water, and vital services. Conditions there – according to Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East – are “beyond inhumane.” The attack reminds us once again that Syria’s agony can be ended only by concerted international action.
When protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s authoritarian regime first broke out in 2011, few could have imagined the catastrophe that Syria would suffer. The war has claimed more than 200,000 lives and devastated Syria’s social and economic fabric.
The conflict has led to atrocities on all sides, including mass executions, kidnapping, torture, the use of chemical weapons, and the deployment of barrel bombs. Some 12 million people have fled their homes, and many have left the country altogether, placing a heavy burden on neighboring states like Lebanon and Jordan. More than three million children are no longer in school.