Syrian children die of hunger under regime siege

A Syrian infant suffering from severe malnutrition is carried by a nurse at a clinic in the rebel-controlled town of Kafr Batna, in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of Damascus, on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 23 October 2017
0

Syrian children die of hunger under regime siege

HAMOURIA, Syria: One-month-old Sahar, her ribs protruding under translucent skin, breathed her last on Sunday in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, where a crushing regime siege has pushed hundreds of children to the brink of starvation.
Only a trickle of humanitarian aid ever reaches this rebel-held region east of Damascus, under a tight blockade by Assad regime forces since 2013.
Eastern Ghouta is one of four “de-escalation zones” set up in May under a deal between backers of rival sides in Syria’s devastating six-year war.
But food supplies still rarely enter the region, where medical officials say hundreds of children are suffering acute malnutrition.
On Saturday, the parents of Sahar Dofdaa, just 34 days old, took her to a hospital in the Eastern Ghouta town of Hamouria.
Images filmed by a reporter working with AFP showed a wide-eyed girl with listless eyes and little but skin on her bones.
She tried to cry but lacked the strength to make much of a noise. Her young mother sobbed nearby.
Her skeletal thighs poked out of a nappy way over her size. Placed on the scales, she weighed less than 2 kg (just over 4 pounds).
Like hundreds of children in Ghouta, Sahar was suffering from acute malnutrition. Her mother was too undernourished to breastfeed her and her father, earning a pittance at a butcher’s shop, was unable to afford milk and supplements.

Sahar died at the hospital on Sunday morning and her parents took her — their only child — to their nearby town of Kafr Batna to bury her.
Her death came after another child in Ghouta also died of malnutrition on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“Residents suffer from severe food shortages, and when goods are available in the markets, it is at a crazy price,” the Observatory said.
Medics at hospitals and health clinics in Eastern Ghouta say they examine dozens of malnourished children a day — and that the number is on the rise.
Images taken by an AFP correspondent show skeletal infants with ghostly faces. One has breathing difficulties, another has a feeding tube in its mouth and a third has a bandage wrapped around his tiny arm.
Yahya Abu Yahya, doctor and regional head of medical services for Turkish NGO Social Development International, which has several medical centers in Ghouta, said the group’s centers had examined 9,700 children in recent months.
“Of these, 80 were suffering severe acute malnutrition, 200 had moderate acute malnutrition, and about 4,000 were suffering from nutritional deficiencies,” he said.
Abu Yahya said that many children in Eastern Ghouta are suffering from “deficiencies, migraines, vision problems, depression, psychological problems".
According to UN figures, some 400,000 people live in besieged parts of Syria, the majority in Eastern Ghouta.
Despite agreement on de-escalation zones backed by regime supporters Russia and Iran and rebel sponsor Turkey, the region still has very limited access to aid.
Abu Yahya said the region was not receiving basic foods children need, such as sugar, sources of protein and vitamins.
On Sept. 23, a convoy carrying food and medical aid for some 25,000 people entered three besieged areas of Eastern Ghouta, according to the UN.
But Abu Yahya said what aid does reach the region covers just five to 10 percent of the needs of malnourished children.
Sahar was the latest victim of Eastern Ghouta's food crisis. On Sunday, her father carried the tiny child to her grave. Behind him, relatives walked with Sahar’s mother, nearly collapsing with grief.


Israel army says delegation heading to Russia over Lebanon ops

Updated 11 December 2018
0

Israel army says delegation heading to Russia over Lebanon ops

  • The Kremlin said on Saturday that Netanyahu had called Putin to discuss the operation against alleged Hezbollah tunnels
JERUSALEM: An Israeli army delegation will head to Moscow on Tuesday to brief their Russian counterparts on operations to destroy Hezbollah tunnels from Lebanon, the military said.
“An Israeli army delegation composed of senior officers and led by the head of army operations, General Aharon Haliva, will fly to Moscow on Tuesday,” the military said in a statement.
“During the day-long visit, the delegation will brief their Russian counterparts on Operation Northern Shield and other operational issues,” said the statement issued on Monday.
The announcement came after a telephone call between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Israel on Wednesday launched an operation — dubbed Northern Shield — aimed at destroying alleged Hezbollah “attack tunnels” infiltrating its territory from Lebanon.
Ties between Israel and Russia have been strained since the accidental downing of one of Moscow’s transport planes on September 17 by Syrian ground batteries killed 15 service personnel.
Moscow pinned responsibility for the incident on Israel, saying its fighter jet used the larger Russian plane for cover, an allegation Israel disputed.
Russia subsequently upgraded Syrian air defenses with the delivery of the advanced S-300 system.
The Kremlin said on Saturday that Netanyahu had called Putin to discuss the operation against alleged Hezbollah tunnels.
During the conversation, Putin stressed “the need to ensure stability along the dividing line between Israel and Lebanon,” according to Russia’s embassy in Israel.
Netanyahu for his part reaffirmed Israel’s policy of preventing the establishment of an Iranian presence in Syria and to “act against the aggression of Iran and Hezbollah.”
Israel occupied parts of Lebanon for 22 years until 2000, and the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement claimed credit for its withdrawal following persistent guerrilla attacks.
The two countries are still technically at war but the border has remained relatively calm in recent years.
Russia is fighting on the same side as Iran and Hezbollah in support of President Bashar Assad in Syria.