United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Sima Sami Bahous, working in the U.N. Development Program, released a report on the casualties in the three-year on-going civil war. Over 120,000 citizens have been killed. Five and one-half million children need assistance. Six million have been displaced with ten million still living in poverty. Two and half million are refugees now living in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt. While these countries have been gracious, the load is approaching the unbearable point.
One glances at these statistics and soon drowns in the massive numbers. To keep in touch with the extreme cost, we have to step back and fasten on one children’s face twisted in anguish and fear –then multiply that one face by millions more. The people paying the highest price are the women and children. Syria is sinking in pain.
As the third year of fighting begins, there is no end in sight. Reports from within Syria now reveal that Assad is using starvation as a weapon to force some areas to submit. An anonymous Syrian rebel, Skyped that people are eating whatever they can find, including grass. Deaths from malnutrition-related illnesses are not uncommon. One of the hardest hit areas is Moadamiyya that has been under siege for 15 months. Opposition held towns in the Damascus suburbs and Old Homs report a similar story. A spokesperson for the UN World Food Programme reports about 200,000 Syrians in 40 besieged communities are in desperate need of aid.
The city of Homs is a good example of the crisis. As many as 4,000 people are trapped in besieged neighborhoods. Around 100 are critically wounded, trying to survive in sadly under-equipped makeshift clinics. Because Assad’s siege is total, no one can get in or out. No help or equipment has made it in or out for over 600 days. One man sent a Skype internet call, saying Syria has become a “war of starvation.”
Why? Because Bashar Assad lacks the manpower to engage street battles with the rebels, he has resorted to this strategy. Long ago labeled the “butcher of Syria,” he is apparently not bothered by such an approach. Turning now to barrel bombs in the Damascus suburb of Darayya, he is using explosives designed to create terror more than take out rebel forces. The rebels read this tactic as a sign that Assad has little left to fight with except such explosives and hunger.
Because the Geneva “supposed peace talks” have accomplished absolutely nothing, Syrians have lost faith in the international community. Rebels believe the UN has done zero to stop Assad. Yet, the rebels will not back down. Another anonymous rebel reported, “We would prefer to die of starvation than return to Assad’s rule.”
And so the war goes on . If you believe in praying about such situations, now would be a good time to get down on your knees.