The tragedy of Aleppo continues

Surrounded by shouting, he’s completely silent.

The child is small, alone, covered in blood and dust, dropped in the back of an ambulance with his feet dangling off the edge of a too-big chair.

He doesn’t cry or speak. His face is stunned and dazed, but not surprised. He wipes his hand over his wounded face, looks at the blood, wipes it off on the chair.

And he stares.

The world is staring back


5-year-old boy, identified in news reports as Omran Daqneesh, sits in an ambulance Wednesday after reportedly being pulled out of a building hit by an airstrike in Aleppo, Syria. Mahmoud Raslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The United Nations has suspended its humanitarian task force in Syria amid frustration over intensified fighting in the country’s civil war.

The decision was announced on Thursday as a haunting photo of a young boy rescued from beneath rubble of his home after a devastating air strike in Aleppo provoked outrage around the world.

Staffan de Mistura, the UN’s special envoy for Syria, stopped a meeting on humanitarian access after just eight minutes, saying it made “no sense” to plan aid deliveries when they would not be let into besieged areas.

Why ?  Because of one thing: Fighting,” he added. “I decided to use my privilege as chair to declare that there was no sense to have a humanitarian meeting today unless we got some action on the humanitarian side in Syria.

“What we are hearing and seeing is only fighting, offensives, counteroffensives, rockets, barrel bombs, mortars, hellfire cannons, napalm, chlorine, snipers, airstrikes, suicide bombers.”


The situation of civilians in Aleppo is “critical and demands immediate attention and response,” a United Nations-mandated human rights panel warned on August 16, expressing grave concern for the safety of the war-raved city’s people, including some 100,000 children, and urging countries with influence to pressure the parties to the conflict in Syria to return to political negotiations.

“The situation in Aleppo city has been catastrophic for many years. As unthinkable as it is, the current attacks suggest the agony of its civilians is about to deepen,” the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria said in a statement.

“These attacks appear to form the prelude to a siege, designed to force the capture of the city through an already-documented strategy of ‘surrender or starve’,” it added.

According to the Commission, civilians are being killed in the city due to daily aerial bombardments by Government and pro-Government forces, while many have also died trapped under rubble of collapsed buildings surrounding impact sites. Subsequent strikes have killed first responders, including members of the Syrian Civil Defence, as they attempted to rescue survivors.

Additionally, the bombardments have also destroyed more than 25 hospitals and clinics since January, killing patients and medical staff. Among the healthcare facilities destroyed are maternity hospitals, paediatric units and emergency wards.

“Those inside the armed group-held neighbourhoods describe lives of horror, under near-constant threat of death from airstrikes. There is limited food, water, and supplies for babies and infants. Access to medical care in these areas is largely non-existent,” said the Commission, underlining the dire situation of the civilians in the city.

The situation of civilians in Government-controlled area is equally desperate as scores have been killed by indiscriminate ground shelling of armed groups, as coalitions including Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam, and the terrorist group Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (previously Jabhat al-Nusra) mount their counteroffensive against Government attack, the statement added.

More than two million civilians in the city do not have access to running water, and markets, bakeries and water pumping stations have been destroyed in airstrikes and barrel bombings.

Also briefing the press, Mr. de Mistura’s Special Advisor, Jan Egeland said: “The stakes cannot be higher in the coming days, because, really, millions of Syrian civilians are now in a seeming free fall, from Aleppo to Eastern Ghouta, from Fua and Kefraya to Zabadani and Madaya, and to the whole people of Darayya, who are still waiting the second half of the first convoy that they promised them.”

Mr. Egeland said the situation is “heart wrenching” for thousands of humanitarian workers in and around Syria to not be allowed by the fighting to come to the rescue as a lifeline to these millions of people. “There are enormous resources ready and humanitarian workers willing to take the risk to go into these zones, if they get the permission, and they are not at the moment” he stated.

No military solution can end this deadly stalemate in Syria. The parties involved will have to reconcile to a negotiated diplomatic agreement of power sharing, retracting from their known hardened positions. If that do not happen soon, that portion of earth these people wish so hard to possess will be soon be devoid of any human settlement.



  1. says

    If the building he was in was hit by a bomb there’s a good chance he can’t hear, and he’ll live his whole life with a ringing in his ears. And who knows what psychological trauma.

    There were several hospitals in Aleppo, which the Syrian government bombed. The Americans have probably bombed the rubble, for good measure. The one hit back in June was operated by Doctors Without Borders; they have lost a lot of doctors between Afghanistan and Syria.

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