Palestinian double-refugees struggle in Gaza
|Gaza City, Palestine – “Death was all over the place. Projectiles were not stopping … we miraculously fled the camp.”
This is how Palestinian refugee Alaa Barakat described his last moments in Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus in December 2012. Barakat lived in the camp with his wife and two children, a three-year-old and a five-month-old. The Yarmouk camp, which previously housed more than 160,000 Palestinian refugees, was bombarded by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and saw frequent armed confrontations between the Syrian army and armed opposition groups.
A government-imposed siege on the camp has led to severe shortages of food, water and medicine, sparking a humanitarian crisis. Some 18,000 Palestinians, and some Syrian families, remain in the camp today.
Barakat and his children flew from Damascus to Cairo, and then moved to northern Sinai near the border with the Gaza Strip. He paid $150 to enter Gaza through underground tunnels soon thereafter. The family arrived in Gaza with only the clothes on their backs. Barakat’s wife, Eman, a Syrian citizen, joined them in Gaza three months later after securing a permit from Syrian authorities.
“Nothing can describe the feeling of a person when they have to live the pain and suffering again. I started my life as a refugee child in a refugee camp in Syria; I come back today here in Gaza to live the harsh life of refugees once again with my children,” Barakat said.