While a deadly offensive is underway in Aleppo in Syria, a leading charity discloses that half of the casualties seen in one hospital have been children. But the international community has failed to help achieve a successful ceasefire for necessary relief.
Aleppo has been subject to a deadly offensive by the Syrian regime and rebel forces in the ongoing Syrian conflict. While eastern Aleppo remains under rebel control, there has been a major campaign to regain the area by the Syrian military, Iranian back Shiite militia and Russian warplanes.
The campaign has taken its toll on residents trapped inside eastern Aleppo, according to a report by Save the Children. One hospital claimed that 43% of the injured were children. And a member of the ambulance crew with Syrian NGO Shafak said that more than 50% of the casualties they picked up in a 48-hour period were children.
Dr Rajab, a doctor working at the hospital said that they were working hard to try and save the wounded but the siege made it difficult:
The field hospitals where we work are completely full with injured people and casualties, the majority of them women and children. The patients are on the floor, with no ventilators for the ones who need oxygen. We have to take the ventilators from one patient to save another. We have severe shortages [of medicines and equipment] and exhausted medical staff who are working above human ability, 24 hours a day.
Eastern Aleppo was taken in August 2016 by a new united rebel front in Syria, in order to break a siege imposed by the Syrian regime. Rebels have now besieged the eastern part of the city, while the west is encircled by regime forces. Rebels have blocked off roads, which means the area is lacking critical medical equipment and medicine, and critical cases cannot be transferred out.
According to aid agencies, an estimated 100,000 children are trapped in Aleppo. The escalation of violence in this part of the strategically important city has horrified the international community and an emergency session was held by the Security Council on Sunday 25 September 2016.
Speaking on 25 September, Sonia Khush, Save the Children’s Syria Director, said:
We are witnessing an appalling atrocity being perpetuated against the children of Aleppo in front of our eyes today. The failure to protect them and children across Syria will haunt the international community for decades to come.
She appealed for the emergency session to act to prevent further suffering and to agree on an immediate ceasefire.
The blame game
The US and the UK assigned blame to Russia for its ‘barbarism’, but the UN Syrian envoy maintained that what was important was to find a way for an effective ceasefire.
UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, appealed for more political will to end what he labelled a ‘nightmare’.
What excuse is there for anything less than determined action to stop the mayhem? How much longer will all those with influence allow such cruelty to continue?
The World Health Organisation have now asked for more roads to be opened so that the sick and wounded can be evacuated. But calls for a ceasefire are not receiving any answer as Russia claims that to do so will “aid terrorists”.
Ceasefires are in the habit of being broken very quickly in Syria, so their usefulness as a tool for peace is debatable. But it can serve to at least allow some relief, even momentarily. Moon’s appeal to ‘those with influence’ should now be seen as urgent. Instead of using up energy to slam Russia, those that can should direct their efforts to broker a successful ceasefire and protect the children who depend on it.
– Support Save the Children’s Syria appeal.
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