Global Independent Analytics

Eating Leaves, and Other Ways Besieged Syrians Try to Survive

The horrors of everyday life in Syria where the war shows no signs of stopping

RICK GLADSTONE reporting for The New York Times: Syrian doctors and medical workers have no choice but to let the wounded bleed to death for lack of bandages, and have opted to use catheter bags meant for urine to administer intravenous fluids to newborns because proper drip bags are gone.

Refugees living in camps across the Europe are having a hard time by our standards, but their troubles are nothing short of minor annoyances when compared to lives of those who stayed behind.

Pregnant women on final stages are forced to give birth by cesarean section rather than to risk natural childbirth in conditions of constant shelling and bombings during never-ending attacks. Babies, weak and malnourished, are eating animal food, plants, and leaves. Families are burning mattress stuffing and plastic scraps to live through cold nights.

These horrific details are all listed in a Save the Children report published Tuesday night to tell the World of the challenges that Syrian civilians confront on a daily basis in 18 areas across the country that the United Nations has defined as besieged. The report, however, did not provide new statistics about the extent of suffering in the country, where half the population has been displaced and 250,000 to 470,000 have been reported killed.

Meanwhile, the war shows no signs of stopping, despite the fact that it’s now entering sixth year and both sides are no closer to victory than they were at the beginning. Even a partial cease-fire reached last month under international pressure between the forces of President Bashar al-Assad and an array of insurgent opponents didn’t improve the situation in any significant way.

“The medical station here is no more than a table, a sterilizer and piece of gauze,” a mother in eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, said in the report. “Even the wounded are left to die because there are no materials available to save their lives.”

There are claims that surgeons improvised by operating in candlelight and using old water hoses as ventilation tubes. “Families scour the streets for discarded blankets, cloths or scraps of cloth that can be boiled — in an attempt to sterilize them — and used as bandages,” the report said.

There are also water supply issues, as in the city of Deir al-Zour in eastern part of the country, where water is only available once a week for three hours. This coincides with a lack of chlorine, something that could be considered ironic due to the compound's dual use both as a water purifier and as a deadly gas used to kill civilians if it wasn’t so tragic.

United Nations Security Council repeatedly demanded the “cessation of hostilities” agreement, the report said, yet only a small part of the emergency aid needed in hot zones has actually reached the besieged areas.

By Stefan Paraber for GIA

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