More than 275,000 people face intensified daily bombardment in eastern Aleppo. As many as 100,000 of the people trapped in the rebel controlled area are children. They are facing a humanitarian catastrophe. The near-continuous siege since mid-July has been compared to infamous massacres in Srebrenica and Rwanda.
“The indiscriminate brutality witnessed in Aleppo must end. The people of Aleppo need an immediate ceasefire,” said Caritas Internationalis Secretary-General Michel Roy.
Health is the priority. Hospitals and clinics are in critical need of assistance. They are struggling to cope with insufficient supplies, staff or space to treat the injured. There is also an acute lack of food in the besieged area.
“Humanitarian agencies need safe, full, regular and unimpeded access. Health infrastructure is devastated. Hundreds of patients in critical conditions need to be evacuated,” said Michel Roy.
Pope Aleppo appeal
On 28 September, Pope Francis said, “Dramatic news continues to reach me concerning the fate of the people of Aleppo, with whom, through prayer and spiritual closeness, I feel united in suffering.”
Pope Francis appealed to those responsible for the bombing. He warned them that they will be “accountable to God” for their actions.
“In expressing my deep sorrow and lively concern for what is happening in that already battered city – where children, the elderly, the sick, young and old, all are dying,” he said, “I renew my appeal to everyone to commit themselves with all their strength to the protection of civilians as an imperative and urgent obligation.”
Humanitarian situation in Aleppo
- About two thirds of all hospitals are no longer functioning due to frequent air strikes
- The main trauma hospital was recently hit by an airstrike for the third time, leaving it completely unusable.
- At least 95 percent of all doctors are gone, either because they fled, have been detained or are dead.
- Despite the loss of medical facilities and staff, the health care system still manages to function enough to save lives every day.
- In 2010, Aleppo had 33 hospitals, in August 2015 only 10 were still in function. Some hospitals in Aleppo have as few as 2 doctors for the whole facility.
- Before the war, there was 1 doctor for every 800 people, in 2015 it 7000 people for 1 doctor.
- People have been almost entirely cut off from food, electricity, medicine and water supply.
Peace is possible
Through its Syria: Peace is Possible campaign, Caritas is urging its supporters around the world to put pressure on their governments to:
- Ensure all sides of the conflict come together to find a peaceful solution
- Support the millions of people affected by the war,
- Give Syrians inside and outside the country dignity and hope.
“Syrian people need peace and dignity,” said Bishop Antoine Audo, the Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo and Caritas Syria president, during an encounter with Pope Francis last week. “The solution for Syria is not military, it is political and it must come from inside Syria, from the people of Syria, not imposed from the outside.”