Syrian civil war: Humanity under siege

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A grave humanitarian crisis in Syria which is hardly getting any due attention by the global community.

Ever since the siege on Syria’s rebel-held Eastern Ghouta began on February 18, nearly 550 lives have been lost, almost a third of it comprising children. While people suffer and die in what has become a proxy battleground for world powers, the rest of the world watches as mute audience. Eastern Ghouta has been under relentless aerial bombardment by Russian-backed Syrian warplanes in their ‘campaign’ against the opposition fighters or rebels. The Bashar al-Assad regime has imposed a devastating siege that has created a grave humanitarian crisis in the region which unfortunately is not getting the deserving global attention. The United Nations appealed for a 30-day ceasefire on humanitarian grounds to the parties involved. Russia agreed, voting in its favour, but with a caveat that this wouldn’t include their attacks on ‘terrorists’ which will continue, ultimately violating the resolution.

Moreover, attacks have reportedly been targeted at civilian neighbourhoods without focusing on the front line of the rebels’ offence.

Russian president Putin called for a five-hour truce during daytime, supposedly to create ‘safe corridors’ to facilitate evacuation, but the “humanitarian pause,” as Putin calls it, has been futile as aerial bombardment continued to claim lives. A second attempt at a similar truce failed as well. Furthermore, there have been reports of North Korea providing materials for ‘chemical weapons’ to Syrian forces.

The civilians, who are afraid to step out in the open, are cut off from essential supplies such as food, medicine, etc. They have been held hostage in their helpless state by both the Syrian army as well as the rebels. In previous attacks, there were voluntary aids reaching people, and corridors were provided. However, the people involved in smuggling aids and civilians are backing the rebels this time. The rebels encourage civilians and their families, including women and children, not to escape as this would dampen their cause, their fight against the regime.

The United Nations have reported that they were restricted and unable to provide any humanitarian aid in Eastern Ghouta.

Why is the civil war taking place?

Syrians had complained about high unemployment, corruption and state repression from as early as 2004 under the Assad regime. In 2011, peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations were met with deadly force by the government to crush the dissent. This caused nationwide protests and as the situation intensified, the opposition took up arms and took control of various regions. This was termed by Assad as ‘foreign-backed terrorism’.

“The civil war intensified with the involvement of external powers such as Iran,
Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States. They continued to provide
military, financial and political support to the government and the opposition,
turning the civil war into prolonged proxy warfare”

External powers have also instigated to turn the war into a sectarian issue between the country’s Sunni majority and the president’s Shia Alawite sect with thousands of foreign militiamen. Iran is said to be investing billions of dollars every year to strengthen the Alawite regime in addition to deploying countless forces. On its part, Russia, in an attempt to protect its political interests in Syria which aligning with the Assad regime, conducts aerial attacks across the country.

The United States, which blames Assad for the crisis, claims that it ‘moderately’ provides assistance to ‘moderate’ rebels. The US has conducted airstrikes in Syria claiming innocent lives under the pretext of attacking “only pro-government bases”.

The Syrian civil war is a blot on the humanity, putting the human race in its most deplorable state. World powers fight a proxy war in order to protect their self-interests at the cost of not just human lives, but a state of unfathomable distress inflicted upon the civilians, which the UN Secretary General has described as “hell on earth”. The atrocities have become so common and frequent that the world hardly sees it as ‘news’. It wouldn’t even be fair to call it a civil war. It is a genocide that has claimed nearly 390,000 lives, incomparable to even the violent medieval ages. The question that needs the immediate attention of the world population is:  While the world marches towards civilization, why is it that in a certain part of the world the human race, in its self-satisfying pursuits, has turned to savagery and callousness?