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Hope slices through destruction in Syria's Yarmouk Camp as Palestinians start returning

A man rides a bike at the Yarmouk Camp on Nov. 17, 2021. Xinhua

Three years after the Yarmouk Camp in the south of Syria's capital Damascus returned to the government control following the defeat of the Islamic State (IS), the Palestinian refugees there are trying to rebuild their lives in the largest camp for them in Syria.

Even though the rehabilitation work is going on in the camp, the entire reconstruction still needs big construction companies to remove the destroyed buildings and carry out an overhaul.

Mahmoud al-Khaled, a reconstruction engineer, told Xinhua that the current work aims to repair the damaged infrastructure in the camp to just enable the people to return to their homes.


Jamal Saadi, a Palestinian refugee, fixes his home at the Yarmouk Camp in the south of Damascus, Syria, on Nov. 17, 2021.Photo:Xinhua


He said 40 percent of the camp is fine, another 40 percent needs rehabilitation and 20 percent is totally destroyed.

Al-Khaled noted that people have started returning at a slow pace because of the lack of services and infrastructure.

Since 2018, a total of 800 families have returned to the camp, slowly fixing their houses, and the current work is supported by the Syrian government and funded by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), according to al-Khaled.

"The rubble will be removed from all areas in the camp to pave the way for the reconstruction of the infrastructure, such as the sanitation and drinking water, electricity as well as other infrastructures and public services," al-Khaled said.

A man rides a bike at the Yarmouk Camp in the south of Damascus, Syria, on Nov. 17, 2021.Photo:Xinhua


He pointed out that as soon as the services are restored and the infrastructure is repaired, the vast majority of the people of the camp will return.

Jamal Saadi, a Palestinian refugee, said he was among the first to return to the camp three years ago, but he is still fixing his home. His neighbors said Saadi is famous in the camp, as he cleared an entire street of rubble all by himself to encourage more neighbors and relatives to return.

"For the people in the camp, they have their memories and lives here, which was beautiful before the crisis. I hope life will return to what it was before the war soon," he told Xinhua.

His neighbor Mahmoud Fourani comes to the camp every day to oversee the reconstruction progress of his home, telling Xinhua that he has fed up with paying a lot of money for his rented house outside Damascus.

"Life in the camp has started returning. I hope everyone will come back to their homes, neighbors and loved ones," Fourani said, adding he is determined to fix his home and return.

"I am determined to carry on and return to the place where I was born. The camp is my birthplace, something that I cannot forget," he told Xinhua.

 
Jamal Saadi, a Palestinian refugee, walks at the Yarmouk Camp in the south of Damascus, Syria, on Nov. 17, 2021.Photo:Xinhua


The Yarmouk Camp is known as the capital of the Palestinian diaspora. Most of the Palestinian refugees in Damascus lived in the Yarmouk Camp and fled during the Syrian war.

Agencies
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