Protest against Yarmouk crisis inaction at PLO office in Ramallah
Published Sunday 12/01/2014 (updated) 14/01/2014 11:04
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Protesters held a sit-in at the offices of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Ramallah on Sunday morning in protest against the PLO's inaction in the face of the crisis facing Palestinian refugees in Syria.
Activists gathered at the main entrance to the building which houses the offices of the PLO and tried to prevent employees from accessing their offices in protest against the "delayed" efforts of the PLO to prevent a "famine" in Syria's besieged Yarmouk refugee camp.
Palestinian Authority security forces deployed in the area in order to disperse the protest, but protesters refused to leave and staged a sit-in strike in front of the building.
Protester Rita Abu Ghosh told a Ma'an reporter that security officers took the identity cards of several protesters.
Abu Ghosh added that security forces also detained an activist she identified as Yasin Sbeih.
An employee in the PLO office named Fayiz Salamah denied earlier reports that the offices had been shut down.
Salamah told Ma'an via telephone that he invited the protestors into the building to convey their message, but they refused.
He asserted that all employees entered the building and started work normally.
"If freedom of expression impedes national interests, it should be reconsidered," he said.
Solidarity demonstrations have taken place with Yarmouk across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in recent days as reports of starvation in the camp have rapidly increased.
On Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 41 Palestinians had died there as a result of starvation and medicine shortages.
After rebels seized control of Yarmouk in December 2012, the camp became embroiled in the armed fighting taking place across Syria and came under heavy regime assault.
Regime forces eventually encircled the camp and in July imposed a siege on the camp, leading to a rapid deterioration of living conditions.
Fatah leader Abbas Zaki told Ma'an in mid-October that Yarmouk's population of 250,000 had dwindled to 18,000 after two and a half years of conflict in Syria.
The Syrian conflict, which began as peaceful protests in March 2011 but developed into a civil war, has killed more than 130,000 people and prompted millions to flee their homes.