Baby Israa al-Masri died of a hunger-related illness on January 11, 2014 in the Yarmouk camp [AP]
Dheisheh, Occupied Palestinian Territories – Ahmed Odeh was watching a YouTube video about the abysmal conditions in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, near Syria’s war-torn capital Damascus. A small girl in the video was crying and shouting, "I’m hungry, I’m hungry."
After watching the video, "I had the idea to make a campaign to help these people," said Odeh.
So he gathered a group of his Palestinian friends from the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, where he lives, and they made a plan. The group decided to start an effort called "Life Line" to collect aid for Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk, which – like many areas in Syria – is surrounded by fighting between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebel factions trying to overthrow him.
The Syrian civil war has now raged for nearly three years with 130,000 killed and no end in sight.
In the Yarmouk camp, more than 55 people have died from hunger and the majority of children are suffering from malnutrition, according to Abdullah al-Khatib, a Palestinian activist living there. Most people are consuming soup made from water and spices, Khatib said, and some are reportedly eating grass for survival.