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These Photos Of Yarmouk Show Some Of The Devastation Of The Syrian War

A neighborhood that was once home to the largest community of Palestinians in Syria now lies in ruins. Aid has started to trickle in, but violence threatens to once more cut off the tens of thousands who remain stranded in Yarmouk.

Posted on February 25, 2014, at 10:14 a.m. ET

What was once a bustling neighborhood of 180,000 just south of Damascus is now devastated. Workers with the United Nations say approximately 20,000 people remain, most with no water or electricity.

UNRWA Photos

Yarmouk was established in 1957 as an unofficial refugee camp and was once home to the largest community of Palestinians in Syria. It was under siege by the Syrian regime from July 2013 to Jan 30, when UN workers were first able to enter and deliver aid.

UNRWA Photos

Families in Yarmouk said that 85 people died of starvation during the six month siege. Women died in childbirth, unable to reach medical facilities, and families said they resorted to eating herbs boiled in water and animal feed.

UNRWA Photos

"It is impossible not to be touched by the apocalyptic scenes emerging from the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk near Damascus," Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), told BuzzFeed.

UNRWA Photos
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Some of the worst cases of starvation have been among the very young. Earlier this month, the UN published photos of "Baby Khaled," who had a severe form of malnutrition that caused him to look much younger than 14 months. Here he is 20 days after being given treatment by UN doctors.

UNRWA Photos
UNRWA Photos

But access to the camp has remained sporadic. Flareups of violence have cut off the camp for days at a time. "Access is very fragile. There is a complex agreement between the parties in the camp," said Gunness.

UNRWA Photos

“UNRWA's medical teams can still save a lot of children’s lives if we could reach them,” said Ibrahim Mohammad, an UNRWA doctor.

UNRWA Photos
UNRWA Photos
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"We believe there are many babies and infants on the verge of death inside Yarmouk," Mohammad said.

UNRWA Photos

"We need access and our doctors and nurses need to be safe," he said.

UNRWA Photos

This weekend, the UN agreed on a landmark humanitarian resolution that called on all sides to lift the siege in Syria and allow aid convoys.

UNRWA Photos
Residents of Yarmouk queuing to receive food supplies distributed by UNRWA on Jan. 31.
AP Photo/UNRWA

Residents of Yarmouk queuing to receive food supplies distributed by UNRWA on Jan. 31.

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Palestinians wait to receive humanitarian aid distributed by UNRWA on Feb. 24.
Stringer / Reuters

Palestinians wait to receive humanitarian aid distributed by UNRWA on Feb. 24.

But many in Yarmouk said they are not optimistic that the agreement will last. They want to be able to leave the city, and few are given permission to do so, especially the elderly.

UNRWA Photos
UNRWA Photos
UNRWA Photos

"Much more needs to be done," said Filippo Grandi, the UNRWA commissioner general, when he visited Yarmouk last week.

UNRWA Photos
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