SYRIA: Stop Blocking Humanitarian Aid

Many areas in Syria are suffering terrible consequences due to lack of humanitarian aid. Some, such as Homs, have been under constant attack by the Assad regime for more than two years, and the Homs area has been completely decimated. People still living there have no services or consistent sources of food. In Aleppo, a large number of people remaining in the area are suffering from displacement, living in public buildings or on the street. They desperately need humanitarian aid. Of course, there is the most talked about “situation of the week” in Mouadimiya in western Ghouta and other Damascus suburbs. According to the Free-Syria Foundation, “Innocent women and children are victims of the regime’s brutal crackdown on Syria’s revolution for freedom. There has been no child formula or bread for about a year.”

Free Syria Foundation Poster Child 1
A FreeSyria Foundation Poster Child

In Mouadimiya, the lack of humanitarian aid has led to unprecedented reports of children suffering from malnutrition-related illness or death in areas that are only a few miles from Bashar al-Assad’s palace in Damascus. The people of Mouadimiya have been without the basic necessities for nearly a year. Consistent with the constant battering that Assad has carried out on other areas in Syria, he is now targeting Ghouta. According to the Syrian American Council (SAC), “This is a deliberate method of destruction of the living conditions and the people living in the Ghouta area. The regime’s deliberate prevention of the delivery of lifesaving supplies to thousands of civilians is unconscionable.”

Can US State Department Only See One Problem At A Time?

Starving Syrian Girl
A 7year-old Syrian girl in Mouadimiya died due to malnutrition last Friday.

On August 18th, the United States Department of State stated, “The United States strongly condemns the Syrian regime’s continued siege of Ghouta and other Damascus suburbs, especially the town of Mouadimiya, and calls on the regime to allow immediate and unfettered humanitarian access to these areas. … We call on the Syrian regime to immediately approve relief convoys into these areas.” As there are so many areas in Syria where there are people who are suffering from the lack of humanitarian aid, the suffering people throughout Syria must be wondering why the US is only focusing on Mouadimiya. Is the US only capable of seeing the Syria “problem” one issue at a time?

The US State Department went on to say, “We also warn the regime to not repeat the massacres of Houla, Banyas, and Baida and to not use limited evacuations of civilians as an excuse to attack those residents who remain behind. Those who are responsible for atrocities in the Damascus suburbs and across Syria must be identified and held accountable.” The recent Chemical Weapon attack on this area, which included Mouadimiya, was a massacre or does that get compartmentalized into a different WMD category? Empty warnings are not stopping Assad from a repeat performance – he will just use a different scenario.

Syria Starvation Crisis by James Miller
Syria Starvation Crisis Mapped by James Miller

Humanitarian Supplies Cut Off 11 Months Ago

According to Qusai Zakarya, a rebel spokesman, “the regime cut all humanitarian supplies to Mouadimiya ten or eleven months ago, and local stores ran out in March.” He went on to explain that people from the country-side drove by the town along the highway and threw grocery bags full of basic staples for the town people to retrieve. He also says water pipes were “blocked or destroyed by the regime,” which resulted in only one unreliable source of water for the remaining 12,000 residents of the town. Quasai Zakarya reported “more than 11 women and children died from malnutrition. There are about 100 more suffering from malnutrition.”

The United Nations has predicted “almost a quarter of all Syrians will be forced to flee Syria by the end of 2014. It is expected that 3.2 million Syrians will become registered refugees by the end of 2013, with that figure rising to more than 5.2 million in 2014. In addition, approximately 6.5 million people could be internally displaced by the end of 2014.”

The international community has a moral obligation to help the over 2.1 million Syrian refugees, the majority of whom are living in harsh conditions in underfunded refugee camps or worse, “going it alone” in Lebanon, Egypt or Libya, lacking basic food, shelter and medicine. The UN and UNICEF have consistently reported that they are underfunded to take care of the current Syrian Refugee levels seeking refuge in their camps. What will happen when the refugee levels more than double in 2014? Over 50% of Syrian refugees are under the age of 17.

Free Syria Foundation Poster Child 2
A FreeSyria Foundation Poster Child

According to Michael Weiss (Now News), “So long as Assad is allowed to remain in power – and the terms of the U.S.-Russian agreement on WMD more or less allow him another year – no one should expect the Syrian terror-famine to let up.”

If you can make a difference in Syria, please consider making a donation to the Free-Syria-Foundation which is a Syrian American Foundation. They have an on-going campaign No to Hunger. Feed a Child. Save a Life. This campaign commits 100% of their donations to provide

Kimberly Jones is a global nomad with a special interest in the Middle East and North Africa. She grew up in Saudi Arabia and traveled throughout the MENA growing deeply attached to the people and the culture.