Escaping Moadamiyeh

The Damascus district of Moadamiyeh has been the center of much scrutiny after the chemical weapons attack in August that left hundreds injured and dead throughout Syria. Reports of starvation and disease after this attack forced approximately 5,000 Syrians to evacuate the town of Moadamiyeh and stay in temporary shelters since the August attack. Moadamiyeh was under siege by the Assad regime for several months, as Syrian troops stopped food and supplies from entering in an attempt to weaken the rebel fighters.

The religious restrictions by the Islamic law decreeing a ban on eating cats and dogs was lifted by Muslim clerics for residents of neighborhoods under siege, including Moadamiyeh. Poor families were forced to live off of tree leaves, rotting animal carcasses, and stray pets. With strict regime members blocking all entry roads with snipers and tanks, malnutrition was inevitable for the residents. Mothers with limited food access would give whatever they could find to their children and in doing so were unable to produce milk for their babies. Several cases of child deaths have been reported due to acute malnutrition. Children who were checked into clinics were found to have low blood pressure, dizziness and very low white blood cell amounts.

After finally reaching a rare agreement with authorities, the Syrian Red Crescent and International Committee of the Red Cross were able to gradually evacuate the residents of Moadimayeh. Children, women, and the elderly were the first to evacuate. Several of the residents left in tears while young children clutched the food distributed by aid workers. Men were forced to stay in separate lines while they were questioned about their involvement in the war. Thousands of innocent lives have been spared in Moadamiyeh, but plenty of war-torn towns are still under siege and face heavy bombardment while thousands of civilians wait in silence.

– Maybelline Martez

Sources: BBC, UNHCR, The Telegraph
Photo: Yalla Souriya