Locals starving and allegedly forced to eat family pets
Yesterday I saw a photo of the head of a cat posted on social media with a knife to its throat. A second photo showed what appeared to be a skinned animal revealing the meat of a small creature. Initially I thought it was some horrible animal torture ritual as the caption was not in English. It was only later I learnt that the animal, possibly a family pet was allegedly being killed to feed starving civilians in Madaya, a Syrian town of 40,000 mainly Sunni Muslim residents near to the Lebanese border. A number of locals are said to have died in recent weeks according to local activists.
A mother feeds her daughter water mixed with jam (Image ITV)
I could not independently confirm the images however Madaya has been under siege since July by forces loyal to the government of Bashar al Assad and their allies Lebanon’s Shia Hezbollah movement. Recent media reports claim civilians are in dire circumstances as food supplies have almost run out and malnutrition has now replaced mercy. Locals are so desperate in their fight for survival they are “forced to eat grass and drink water flavoured with jam or spices” claimed a Sky News report.
According to the BBC,
“activists said the siege of Madaya had been stepped up by the government and Hezbollah in retaliation for the rebel siege of Foah and Kefraya.
The situation in the predominantly Shia villages, about 7km (5 miles) to the north of the rebel-held provincial city of Idlib, is also reported to have worsened since the fall in September of a nearby government air base where helicopters were able to land and drop off food supplies.”
On January 4th, a poster appeared on a Facebook page which read, “190 days of siege, awaiting death, #Madaya”. Humanitarian aid was last able to reach the town in October when 20 lorries made it through but the situation is now worse. The young and elderly are most at risk. Mother are unable to provide milk for their babies and children appear hollow eyed and listless.
The Guardian reported “rice is sold by the gram because a kilogram costs as much as $250 (£170), the paper also stated, Louay, a social worker who spoke by phone saying,
“people are dying in slow motion. We had some flowers growing in pots at home. Yesterday, we picked the petals and ate them, but they were bitter, awful.”
Boy stated he had been without food for 7 days (Image ABC)
ABC’S Sophie McNeil was sent a video (which could not be independently confirmed) which showed a young boy who said he had not eaten for 7 days. A baby was said to have been without milk for a month and was being fed a mixture of salt and water. Medecins Sans Frontiers told ABC,
“‘we are very worried about recording more deaths due to malnutrition or lack of access to food,’ the official said, speaking on anonymity because they work inside besieged parts of Syria”
See ABC video report on the following link,
Majid Freeman (Winter in Syria, One Nation) tweeted,
The people in
#madaya don’t just need food for a few meals (even though that would help) but they need the siege to be broken. Dua pls
Louisa Loveluck (Middle East reporter for the Daily Telegraph)
Mother in Madaya: “My daughter is so thin I see her muscles straining when she cries, and I cannot help. I am her mother and I cannot help.”
Syrian government response
AFP have just updated that “the Syrian government has agreed to allow much-needed aid into the besieged town of Madaya where thousands take starvation.” The Straits Times stated,
“DAMASCUS (AFP) – Syria’s government on Thursday (Jan 7) gave permission to the United Nations to deliver humanitarian aid to three besieged towns including Madaya near Damascus, the United Nations said.
“The UN welcomes today’s approval from the Government of Syria to access Madaya, Fuaa and Kafraya and is preparing to deliver humanitarian assistance in the coming days,” a UN statement said.”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.