Anna Lekas Miller writes: “What do you think of my room?” Firas asks me in his apartment in Shatila refugee camp, one of the Palestinian refugee camps of Beirut. “The walls are so blank — at home, in Yarmouk I had so many pictures and posters.”
When Firas talks about his former home in Yarmouk, once the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, his emotions vary from minute to minute. One moment he’s laughing uproariously, recalling a fond memory or a funny story. The next he’s somber, overcome with a palpable sadness.
“So many emotions, it makes me so sad to think about this,” he says. “At the same time, it’s all I think about.”
One week ago, Islamic State (IS) militants stormed Yarmouk. All this week, Firas and his roommates — also Palestinian refugees from Syria— are preparing a series of events to draw attention to the plight of Yarmouk. Though pushed to action by IS’s invasion, their goal is to show that the humanitarian catastrophe in Yarmouk is nothing new — the world just hasn’t paid attention until now. [Continue reading…]