Syria’s four years of death and despair: how ordinary lives have changed beyond description

Knowledge, publicity, instant communications: in Syria, the tools of the modern age have failed us utterly.

A year ago, the world was convulsed by an extraordinary image, of a sea of humanity emerging from the bomb-shattered Stalingrad that was the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus.

Besieged by the regime’s forces, they converged on a UN aid convoy in search of bread. There was simply not enough for everyone.

“Unimaginable” and “unbelievable” were words used in the days after the UN Relief and Works Agency released the picture. Its local boss said the 18,000 people trapped inside the camp “had the appearance of ghosts”.