Hunger and Other Losses

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Palestinians in Yarmouk seeking food during the U.N.'s last delivery several months ago. It quickly ran out.

As the civil war in Syria entered its fifth grim year on Sunday, humanitarian agencies say the world has abandoned or forgotten those suffering there. The numbers are hard to absorb: Roughly 220,000 killed; over 10 million or nearly half of the country's population displaced and in need of aid, about half of them children; and an estimated 4.6 million living under siege or in hard-to-access areas, including hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees.

Among those most painfully held hostage by the war are about 20,000 trapped residents of Yarmouk, just south of Damascus, which was long Syria's largest, safest Palestinian community and is now viewed by some as "the worst place on earth." Since the Nakba of 1948, over 150,000 Palestinians have fled to Yarmouk seeking, in turn, shelter, education, dignity, revolution, and these days - in rebel hands and under siege by Assad's government - food.

The U.N. and other humanitarian agencies say that with no access to the ravaged area, people, many of them children, are starving; women are dying in childbirth; thousands are suffering from malnutrition and lack of water, power and medical supplies. While the U.N.'s refugee agency was periodically able to deliver food and medicine there last year, they have been denied any access since December, rendering Yarmouk what one observer calls "Syria's Gaza...a prison from which there is no escape."

It is easy to feel powerless, which in large part we are. But there are things to do. There are oral testimony projects, online news updates, groups working across Syria seeking donations - here, here and here - and social media campaigns to raise awareness and increase pressure on the international community. Their names say it all: Let Us Through, What Does It Take and How Many More.

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 No bread.

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