Every now and then, images that can’t be ignored emerge from places where suffering is all that seems to occupy a daily life.
Today, it’s Omran’s turn. He’s five, and just been pulled from the rubble of his home in the suburbs of Aleppo, Syria:
The video of that rescue is below. You need to watch it to get the true sense of how Omran is coping with the situation.
He obviously had head wounds, but fortunately he came through treatment okay. Physically:
— Raf Sanchez (@rafsanchez) August 17, 2016
(His name was later corrected by doctors to Omran.)
Doctors don’t know what happened to his parents. Three other kids were rescued along with Omran.
Aleppo is a city split down the middle, and the scene of some of the fiercest fighting in the civil war that’s been tearing Syria apart for five years now.
On the western side, it’s held by the government. The eastern side, where Omran lives, has been held by rebels. Since early July, it’s been under siege, subject to constant bombardment from Russian warplanes supporting President Bashar al-Assad, under the guise of “fighting terrorism”.
Nothing gets in or out – not even water. The Aleppo city council leader, Brita Haji Hasan, said it was only a matter of “two or three months” before people started dying of starvation.
The attacking forces have hit electrical infrastructure and recently, the last hospital:
It’s estimated there’s up to 250,000 people holed up, and they’re obviously mostly citizens like Omran and his family.
Lately, the aggression has stepped up, no doubt exacerbated by incidents such as the abuse allegedly dealt to the bodies of Russian crew members after their helicopter was shot down.
This is just another day in Aleppo:
Along with the inevitable result:
“This is what hell feels like,” Clarissa Ward, a CNN correspondent who has reported on wars for more than a decade, told the United Nations Security Council earlier this month.
She said that in all her experience covering war, she has “never seen anything on the scale of Aleppo”.
“The shelling was relentless, there were snipers everywhere and I just remember the feeling of exhaustion from being so petrified all the time.”
For the quarter of a million citizens trapped inside, the only hope, it seems, is for the rest of the world to notice.
Peace talks have all but collapsed, sadly due mainly to the inability to find the answer to a simple question – what happens to Assad, who claims he is fighting ISIS, after the war?
A UN report in February detailed “massive and systematised” violence perpetrated by Assad against his own people and “shatters the notion that the regime is somehow a lesser evil” than the Islamic State.
“The Assad regime staying in power is not the solution,” Charles Lister, a fellow at the Middle East Institute said recently. “It’s not the solution for Syria, and it’s certainly not the solution for defeating terrorism on Syrian territory.”
The Aleppo Media Centre, with its images of Omran above that instantly went viral around the globe in much the same manner as the baby refugee washed up on a Turkish beach in September last year, has hopefully put the spotlight back on the fact it’s not just soldiers who die in wars.
“They are not killing fighters,” Haji Hasan told The Guardian last month. “They are killing civilians.”
“And they are using everything: cluster bombs, barrel bombs, phosphorous bombs and even new weapons we have not seen before.”
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