Tagged: conflict

Caught in the Middle

Caught in the Middle

Ordinary Civilians in Syria

Protests against the regime of Syrian president, Bashar Assad, erupted in March 201. Demonstrators in Damascus and the southern city of Deraa demand the release of political prisoners. Although initially peaceful, security forces shoot a number of people dead in Deraa, triggering days of violent unrest that steadily spread nationwide over the following months. In response to being ordered to shoot unarmed civilians, large numbers of soldiers and police deserted and formed the core of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which was soon joined by civilian volunteers. Since early 2012 the protest movement has escalated into an armed uprising that many consider to have become a civil war.

Whichever side civilians’ support, they have long borne the brunt of a conflict they did not choose and that no-one seems capable of stopping. Hundreds of thousands have fled the country, creating large refugee populations in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. Those who have stayed have no food, no water, and no electricity.

Sanitation systems have broken down and piles and piles of uncollected waste lying everywhere. Diseases are spreading among people whose immune systems have been weakened by hunger. Tuberculosis is ravaging some neighbourhoods, and there have been hundreds of cases of leishmaniasis, a skin disease transmitted by sand flies.

Factories and businesses have ground to a halt. Jobs are almost nonexistent. Fresh meat and groceries are available, but prices have inflated so much that is beyond the means of people who have not worked for such a long period. People’s savings are exhausted and whatever they could sell is sold.

In Syria today, there are no easy solutions. On one hand, the regime can no longer hold its control on northern cities; while on the other hand, rebel fighters are still not fit to provide the population with their basic needs. War profiteers have made the situation even worse.

The long-term psychological damage on an entire generation of Syrians has yet to be played out. If there is no immediate action the world will watch a horrifying humanitarian crisis in one of the oldest civilizations.

A man walks in the Bustan Al Qassar district. The street is mostly deserted due to the danger of sniper fire.
Men break up doors and other pieces of wood they have found in their houses to use as firewood. A door will barely last one week and all heating and cooking is now done with wood since the electricity supply has broken down in Aleppo since fighting started in mid 2012.
A group of children try to keep warm
Industrial City of Aleppo
Makeshift barber
A boy carries the Syrian flag used by the rebel movement in a small demonstration after Friday prayers in the street in the Alfardous district.
Pieces of firewood being sold on the street with a set of scales to measure their weight. Aleppo has been experiencing lengthy electricity outages and wood is often the only way to cook and heat for many residents.
A field worker goes from house to house distributing food cards to the most needy families in the Al Shaar district. There has been no electricity for two months so he has to use a flashlight in order to fill out cards.
A small boy displays signs of leishmaniasis, a skin disease caused by the bite of the female sandfly. Public services have broken down in Aleppo since mid 2012 when fighting between the national army and rebel fighters came to the city. The piling up of garbage has been blamed for various infections and spread of diseases.
15 year old Ahmed pushes a card with scraps he has found on the local rubbish dump. Since fighting started in Aleppo between government forces and rebel fighters, most public services such as electricity and rubbish collection have broken down and people have been left to their own devices. 
A man stands in the ruins of an apartment building in the Almashhad district in Aleppo. The building was bombed by the Syrian Army on 8 January 2013.
A boy carries a bag containing plastic bottles he has found on the streets. 
Sarmada, Idlib Governorate
A Syrian woman looks after her child in a school in Sarmada. People are taking refuge in the town near the Syrian – Turkish border as fighting has in neighbouring Hama governorate has intensified. 
Kilis, Turkey
Faisal (23) was insured on 6 December 2012 when a bomb exploded in his district. His right foot has been amputated. He is staying at the Kilis Istishfa Centre where patients stay after they are released from hospital
Kilis, Turkey
Jihad (24) was shot and wounded on 6 December 2012 in Aleppo. He is being comforted by a relative and recovering at the Kilis Istishfa Center where patients stay after they are released from hospital