The UN agency on Palestinian refugees has launched a major campaign for Palestinians being starved by the Assad regime in the Damsacus-area Yarmouk refugee camp. Curiously and without precedent, however, the campaign suppresses any mention that the victims are Palestinians.
It would seem that because Israel cannot be painted as the villain, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was unable to voice its usual narrative, and instead settled on this bizarre formulation.
Yarmouk is a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria that was home to 160,000 people before the Syrian conflict began. Today, over 140,000 Palestinians have fled Yarmouk, while 18,000 remain trapped inside, starving to death as Syria blocks their access to humanitarian aid.
In response, UNRWA has launched a public awareness campaign demanding Syria allow access to Yarmouk, with some 1400 supporters reposting the following message:
We demand access to #Yarmouk camp, all vulnerable civilians in #Syria. How much longer will they be left to suffer? http://thndr.it/1acPVbp
Why would the UN’s specially-designated agency for Palestinians suddenly describe them as as generic “civilians”?
The campaign statement, signed by over 50 UN agencies and NGOs, refers to Yarmouk as a mere “camp” — again, curiously, not one reference to the fact that it is a Palestinian refugee camp.
Finally, under the description of the campaign organizer, UNRWA lists itself yet nowhere articulates that it is the agency for Palestinian refugees, instead referring, again generically, to a broad range of organizations.
Do Palestinian refugees in Syria suddenly forfeit their identity when the narrative no longer implicates Israel as the oppressor?
As more and more Palestinians become refugees of Syria, UNRWA and the UN will need to address the paradigm shift. Suppressing the identity of their constituents is hardly a respectable response.