Yarmouk Camp, Anybody still there?

04/29/2015 04:55 pm ET | Updated Jun 29, 2015

Sami Skyped me in July 2012 to say that he would be escaping from his home in the old city of Damascus to the Yarmouk camp out of fear that the Syrian secret service would catch him.

Sami was one of the pioneers of the revolution in a time when the revolution meant hope. He participated in the demonstration that took place in the Omayyad mosque. I remember the day. I saw him near the mosque one Friday in June 2011; he smiled at me and told me he would come over later that night. And he did. Sami, a liberal Christian filmmaker, my neighbor and friend, made the time to come and talk about his dreams for a democratic Syria.

Then he went to Yarmouk camp. Located in the south of Damascus, the majority of the camp's population is Palestinian, but there are also many Syrians who have lived there for years. Yarmouk has a population of around 18,000 people, including 3,500 children, and has been without running water since September 2014.

But it is there, that Sami was reunited with Jamal and Firas, friends who he had first met at University. At the camp Sami now lived with them. As they would smoke Shisha and sip dark sweet tea, they shared their lives, passion for making films, helping people and exchanging political views.

Despite different backgrounds and ideologies, these three friends sat in a cafe night after night in the camp, smoking and discussing their dreams of a country with freedom and justice.

Sami, together with his two friends, assisted people in the camp. They helped at the school. They helped the elderly. They fed the hungry. But the most important task to them was capturing daily life in Yarmouk camp with their cameras.

I called Sami a few weeks ago to ask him about his friends and to get some news on the situation in the camp.

Sami's voice was trembling, as if filled with tears. He was now in Reyhanli, a Turkish town near the Syrian boarder. He told me that the inhabitants of Yarmouk are stuck in the middle of the hostilities between ISIS, armed groups (including Aknad Beit al-Maqdis) and the Assad regime.

Then, just a few days ago, Sami called me, so that I would know that Jamal Khalifah and Firas Naji, his two friends, died in Yarmouk camp last week. Isis killed Jamal. And Firas was killed at home, but they have no idea by whom.

This is the same Yarmouk where civil activists like Sami, Jamal and Firas lived together. Where they chanted, helped the residents and captured the siege moments with their cameras.

When the starvation, thirstiness and illness spread to the residents of Yarmouk and there were no organizations or anyone from the international community who could secure a humanitarian corridor to save the people from their tragedy, the violence rose. The ideology of religion, politics and ideas turned into crimes and terrors. The youth of the camp who sang for freedom for years have stopped. With no one listening, they turned into extremists or have been killed by the extremists.

Sami told me, "Jamel Khalifah and Firas Naji's bodies are buried at the camp. I can still hear their unheard songs by the world."

" Who is still there?" I asked.

"I don't know, I'm not sure," said Sami, "but, one thing I am sure about is that I never read in the modern history books of any Palestinian starving in any refugee camps around the World except in Yarmouk, Syria. "

He hung up. I continue to hear his crying.

Hind Kabawat
Lawyer and Human rights activist.
Tanenbaum Peacemaker in Action.