Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Syria: A Modern Humanitarian Failure - Near East Observatory

Syria: A Modern Humanitarian Failure

ntung syria darshifaahospital  Syria: A Modern Humanitarian Failure
A boy is treated by doctors and nurses after sustaining injuries from an airstrike in the Sha’ar neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria. (TIME/Nicole Tung)
Syria: A Modern Humanitarian Failure
By: Raha Mirabdal

The Syrian crisis marks not only one of the bloodiest modern revolutions, but also one of the most blatant humanitarian failures for the international community.  The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported that more than 45,000 individuals have been killed in the conflict; the majority of whom were civilians. Yet behind the statistics are thousands of tragic stories of innocent civilians, refugees and children caught in the crossfire. The inability of the international community to protect the innocent in this conflict stands as a monumental failure for the modern conception of human rights and international law.
Children of War
The toll on the children of Syria has been vast, with consequences likely to last over a generation. Many have been shot, kidnapped, tortured, injured or killed.  Others have witnessed the deaths of their parents, siblings, or cousins. The trauma inflicted upon these children will have lasting effects on their psychological health, and will leave deep scars- both seen and unseen.

Save The Children, a children’s rights NGO, conducted a report titled Untold Atrocities, in which they gathered testimonies from Syrian children and families who are living through the crisis. 
According to Save the Children, nearly every child they interviewed had seen a family member or friend killed, and as a result will live the rest of their life with some degree of post-traumatic stress disorder.  To make matters worse, nurses and doctors have not been properly trained to treat psychological trauma, resulting in improper care for children with trauma.

In a testimony provided to Save The Children, Razan, a mother from Karak, recounted the day she witnessed a young boy slowly die in the street as she was walking home.  Soldiers had decided to use the 8-year old boy as a target for shooting practice.  The shot to his head wasn’t a clear one.  The young child lay in the street, dying slowly, as the soldiers tormented his mother who was watching from inside the house “you can’t get to your child, you can’t get to your child.”  Razan watched as the mother screamed from inside the house, unable to reach her dying son.  “There’s no way I can cope,” Razan explained, “no way I can turn over a new page. I have seen children slaughtered. I don’t think I’ll ever be OK again.”  Stories similar to Razans have become far too common in Syria over the past 19 months.

According to War Child, an NGO focused on the effects of war on children around the world, Syrian children are deliberately being targeted in the conflict in an attempt to spark fear in the opposition.  Rob Williams, the chief executive of War Child explained, “Children normally suffer in conflict as collateral damage: if there is war going on then children may be caught in the crossfire, in this particular conflict they have been deliberately targeted.”

Wael, a 16-year old refugee currently living in Za’atari, Jordan gave a testimony to Save the Children explaining the atrocities he witnessed after being arrested. “I knew a boy called Ala’a. He was only six years old. He didn’t understand what was happening. I’d say that six-year-old boy was tortured more than anyone else in the room. He wasn’t given food or water for three days, and he was so weak he used to faint all the time. He was beaten regularly. I watched him die. He only survived for three days and then he simply died. He was terrified all the time. They treated his body as though he was a dog.”

LINK: Syria: A Modern Humanitarian Failure - Near East Observatory

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