Opinion: Starving to Death

Bashar Al-Assad’s army has been besieging the people in Eastern and Western Ghouta and Homs for over a year. However, having failed to break the will of the people through prolonged siege and violence, the regime has now dispatched mercenaries to these areas to bolster the blockade, until the people starve to death under continuous shelling.

According to the news coming from the besieged areas, the price of one kilo of sugar—if you can find this on the market in the first place—has jumped to SYP 3,000, compared to just SYP 169 prior to the siege.

As for the price of one kilo of rice, it has jumped to SYP 2,200, compared to just SYP 50 not so long ago. As for bread, well it has become virtually impossible to find a single loaf of bread anywhere in these areas.

A friend of mine told me that he was lucky enough to be in possession of some bread last month when he met some children with distended stomachs. The children’s mother begged him for a small piece of bread for each child, and my friend returned home empty-handed. This same friend told me of a newborn baby girl who died just six days after being born, as her mother was unable to produce even a single drop of milk to feed the baby, as she herself had not eaten for ten days. The mother died shortly afterwards.

Assad’s army, having failed to regain control of Eastern and Western Ghouta through force of arms, attempted to regain control of some villages and towns through deception and fraud. The military leadership offered to lift the siege, if the town’s defenders would just let them in. When the fighters refused the offer, the Syrian military launched a large-scale heavy shelling campaign, specifically targeting civilians. The army tightened the siege, completely cutting off these regions from the outside world. Following this, the army purchased all the food and commodities it could lay its hands on, attempting to starve the people out. This is why the price of food has increased so much, while many foodstuffs are not just expensive, they are non-existent. There is no sugar, and people are having trouble finding anything to eat or drink. As a result of this terrible situation, people are starving to death on a daily basis, with the death toll rising by the hour.

These besieged areas are on the verge of a humanitarian disaster that could claim the lives of thousands of people, whilst the world stands idly by watching the Syrian people’s misery and suffering. The international community is patting itself on the back for reaching an agreement regarding the destruction of Assad’s chemical weapons. These are the same chemical weapons that he has only ever used against his own people, while the entire deal is being viewed as a victory for Israel.

The chemical weapon issue is just one side of the equation: One side ensures the safety and security of what the traitor regime used to disingenuously call the “enemy,” namely Israel, while the second side moves towards completely exterminating the Syrian people by any means possible.

This equation allowed Assad to use any and all conventional weapons in his possession against the Syrian people, safe from America’s wrath. This emphasized what Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem always said, namely that the US would not act directly against Damascus. In fact, the US’s reaction towards the chemical weapons issue has served as a tacit green light for the regime, at a time when the Assad government was losing all hope of remaining in power and considering fleeing. Many of the regime’s military and civilian leadership had already taken this step, while Bashar himself was said to be close to packing his bags.

Today, the regime is using the most horrible weapon of mass destruction: starvation. All the while, the world at large and international organizations are feigning ignorance. Everybody seems content with adopting feeble verbal stances expressing opposition of what is happening, but declining to take any action on the ground against this criminal regime, whose criminal and inhumane nature has been revealed.

The Syrian regime’s violent and aggressive nature, which can only be compared with that of a foreign occupation, has also been exposed. Assad is no true Syrian, and he is killing the Syrian people simply because they do not support him. Assad is not the true leader of Syria, and he has lost any and all legitimacy, particularly as any power that he now does hold emanates from his killing of the Syrian people, rather than serving their affairs and interests.

This policy of mass starvation will fail to break the Syrian people, who persists in their march towards freedom amidst an ocean of blood. The besieged Syrian people continue to stand tall after over a year of starvation, despite the massive death toll. The Syrian people in these two besieged districts are calling for the world to loosen the death-grip that the Assad regime has on them, saving whoever can still be saved, while not allowing negativity and defeatism to rule.

Michel Kilo

Michel Kilo

Michel Kilo is a Syrian–Christian writer and human rights activist.

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