Updates from Aleppo

Aleppo’s current situation presents the world with a stark contrast to the former financial and industrial centre it once was. Some of the most recent updates include water cuts and a complete lack of medical care and space in hospitals throughout the entire city.

A dramatic increase in the number of casualties and fatalities in Eastern Aleppo can be linked to the complete absence of doctors (totalling a mere fourteen to be exact), and the lack of safe passages for volunteering doctors from the Western side has only added to the amount of people desperately seeking medical attention. With only six out of twenty-one hospitals currently functioning, Aleppo’s current influx of casualties has resorted to cleaners acting as nurses and first aid being carried out in the middle of the street. The removal of essential services throughout the city, such as water and electricity, has meant that neonatal care is essentially non-existent with incubators not being able to function; an alarming number of mothers having to deliver their babies at home; and a scarcity of basic amenities such as blankets to keep new-born children and patients warm. The fact that it has now reached a point where it is possibly more dangerous to be in a hospital than walking the streets of Aleppo proves to us the willingness of parties to this conflict to attack or damage the sanctity of medical facilities and the most basic needs of the city’s people. Additionally, the day-to-day lives of its citizens have been affected by the 320% increase in fuel prices; a continuous stream of shops and markets closing down due to a gradual non-existence of vegetables and tinned food; and the constant need to flee to collective shelters in order to escape rebel and government attacks.

Institutions such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) have openly advertised their willingness to support and act with medical services, but simply cannot step in and help if they are still being viewed as a target or threat. The Red Cross has not been able to deliver aid to Aleppo since April 2016, which has added to their concerns for the safety and well being of the 1.75 million people across the city that had been so deeply relying on such supplies. Urgencies made by the ICRC, and other such institutions, have pushed the idea that aid must be kept separate from the political processes and movements currently existing in Aleppo and throughout Syria in attempts to be granted access to the communities most in need of help. The chief of the International Red Cross, David Miliband, has said that the Syrian crisis has now plummeted to new depths and compared scenes in Aleppo to Dresden in 1945. Despite the tireless and joint efforts of the ICRC, SARC and UN access to key areas is often denied to them, meaning that offering their services and supplies has become increasingly challenging. It has now become absolutely imperative for parties of the conflict to allow help and basic aid to be offered to the citizens of Aleppo as the Syrian conflict continues.

Ellie Davies 11/10/2016

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