It is still unclear what exactly happened on Friday, April 11,  in the rebel-held village of Kfar Zeita, 125 miles north of Damascus. A number of reports and video clips reveal that the rural village fell victim to a poisonous gas attack which injured a number of people.

This chemical attack occurs in the midst of an ongoing international effort to rid Syria of all of its chemical weapons.

It is yet unknown who attacked the village or how many citizens were injured but a number of reports have come out making claims.

The Syrian National Coalition said that the poisonous gas attack injured dozens of people but did not identify the gas used. They also urged the UN to conduct a “quick investigation into the developments related to the use of poisonous gas against civilians in Syria.”

The Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights claims that the attack occurred during air raids and reported many people suffering from suffocation and breathing problems.

A Syrian television network blamed the attack on members of the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front rebel group, saying that chlorine gas was used to kill two citizens and injure more than one hundred.

All of these reports remain unsubstantiated but a number of online videos have also appeared, documenting the aftermath of the attack. One video posted by rebel activists show pale-faced men, women and children gasping for air at a field hospital in Kfar Zeita. Another video showed a hospital room in Kfar Zeita that was packed with women and children crying, some of them wearing oxygen masks.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power notes, “We are trying to run this down. So far it’s unsubstantiated, but we’ve shown, I think, in the past that we will do everything in our power to establish what has happened and then consider possible steps in response.”

The gas attack comes at a time when the international community is attempting to eliminate chemical weapons from Syria once and for all. All chemical weapons are supposed to be removed by June 30th, however the Syrian government continues to miss key deadlines.

– Mollie O’Brien

Sources: The Guardian
Photo: Reuters

In a time of belligerent political discourse amongst nations, despots and corrupt officials in power, it becomes all too easy to lose sight of the importance of education as part of the solution to saving an innocent people. The ongoing civil war in Syria has destroyed 4,000 schools and has left two million children displaced from their homes and families.

UNICEF, along with Syria’s Ministry of Education, is embarking on a project that would reach out to one million school-aged children in all major areas and stretches of Syria.

The initiative has so far amassed 5,000 teaching and learning kits, 3,000 recreation kits, and 800 Early Childhood kits to be sent out to children around the country. UNICEF cites Kuwait as being a major supporter of their initiative with their contribution of more than US$3 million.

UNICEF’s Back to Learning for Syria campaign provides each child with a UNICEF school bag, complete with essential learning supplies such as notebooks, ballpoint pens, pencils, erasers, coloring pencils, and rulers.

In addition to providing children with the tools they need, the disparity and need for teaching facilities are being ameliorated by tents that serve around 400 students.

In a time when the children of Syria and their families are suffering from starvation, lack of electricity, and clean water, there is the hope that education and school will provide a place of refuge for the youngsters from the ravages of war.

– Malika Gumpangkum

Sources: Children of Syria