Last week the Washington Post published an Opinion piece written by Raed Saleh, head of the organisation White Helmets, the Syrian Civil Defense, Dr. Ahmad Tarakji, president of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and Laila Soudi, who works with SAMS and the psychiatry department at the Stanford University School of Medicine, which lays bare the stark reality facing both adults and children in Eastern Aleppo over the next couple of weeks.
Over 250,000 Syrians are trapped in besieged eastern Aleppo with very limited access to food, clean water and medical supplies. These people are living under constant aerial bombardment and those living in the eastern part of the city have nowhere to go. It is expected that Eastern Aleppo will run out of food and medical supplies within a couple of weeks, after which there is a risk of losing more than a quarter of a million people as a result of mass starvation and restricted access to lifesaving medical care.
They write, “Of the quarter of a million people stuck in Aleppo, 100,000 are children. These children cannot eat or sleep without incapacitating fear. Every day, they experience unparalleled levels of trauma and anxiety, making them an especially vulnerable group with only 29 doctors remaining to care for them and their families.
Our doctors are faced with the unimaginable task of having to decide which child to save and which to let die due to the severe shortage of medical supplies and staff. Furthermore, we do not have the infrastructure in place to provide those who survive with mental-health services to alleviate their severe trauma symptoms. Instead, we let them leave our hospitals in anguish and despair, knowing we helped rescue them from underneath the rubble and provided medical care for them in our hospitals but also knowing we cannot alleviate their fear. We are all afraid. We work knowing that the next child we help may be our own.”
Premature babies removed from incubators
In another article, the Independent reports that the children’s hospital was destroyed last Thursday on the third day of a renewed assault by the Syrian regime and Russia against opposition-held districts in Aleppo. The article reports that premature babies in Aleppo have been removed from their incubators after air strikes destroyed hospitals across the city. In a harrowing Al Jazeera video on the Independent website, one can see very small babies being detached from their monitors and tubes and removed from their incubators by distraught nurses in a smoke-filled ward.
A photograph on the same site shows these premature babies lying under a blanket on the floor with medical tubes around them as a nurse tries to provide them with some form of support in a bid to keep them alive.
The Washington Post calls upon the international community to stand in solidarity with the people of Aleppo and work together to help them, saying that the appeal is ‘a human one’. They are calling on people to place pressure on governments to lift the siege on besieged areas and allow food and medical supplies to enter immediately.
Please click here should you wish to donate to SAMS.
Joan Marston is attempting to coordinate a relevant palliative care response to the present crisis in Aleppo. Should you wish to be involved, you are welcome to email her with your suggestions.