While the news out of Syria focuses on the 250,000 people killed as of August 2015, according to the United Nations, starvation is the latest humanitarian crisis to seriously affect Syrian civilians.
Inhumane Tactic Diminishes Respect for Syrian Citizens
Taking away the basic necessities of food and water puts a person on the lowest rung of the social ladder and deteriorates their mental and physical functions. This inhumane tactic in a country that continues to collapse demonstrates how this civil war has diminished the respect for Syria’s own citizens by Syrian government troops and rebels.
The world first came to notice this food crisis when pictures of starving children and reports of malnourished adults in the Syrian town of Madaya were shared on social media. Reports indicate that 42,000 people in the town were at risk from hunger and Doctors Without Borders reported that 23 people in Madaya had died of starvation, including six infants. The U.N. quickly began shipping food to Madaya and to other parts of Syria.
Starvation As a Weapon of War
The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon explained that the Syrian Government and rebels are responsible for the current hardship experienced by Syrian civilians. He also stated, “the use of starvation as a weapon of war is a war crime.” This statement indicates that Syrian civilians are dealing with a humanitarian crisis utilized by the Syrian government and rebels to control the towns in Syria they inhabit.
People in these towns have been eating grass to stay alive and have gone many days without eating. “We would go for three days without food, then we would go and gather grass to just boil and eat it,” Mubarak Aloush, a Madaya resident told Al Jazeera.
Syrian civilians have also witnessed Syrian government troops and rebels smuggling food. Additionally, the few basic food supplies available were priced at $100 a pound. This suffering has caused some civilians to consider death instead of starving. “We’re ready to surrender, but the regime has frozen everything. I’m asking Bashar’s regime to launch a rocket and end our lives,” Mr. Mohammed, an anesthesia technician turned doctor told the New York Times.
Syrian Civil War Dehumanizing Syrian Citizens
This food crisis reveals that the Syrian Civil War continues to dehumanize Syrian civilians and as a result more than four million Syrians have left their home country, according to the New York Times. The fact that social media brought this crisis to the forefront is important because without these posts the world may not have recognized the amount of suffering Syrian residents continue to encounter.
To help Syrian civilians and refugees, send donations to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees.