A Complete Meltdown of Humanity in Aleppo

December 15, 2016

Photo by World Bank Photo Collection (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Photo by World Bank Photo Collection (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Syrian and Russian forces launched an all-out offensive to reclaim the remaining Syrian rebel-controlled territory in eastern Aleppo. The city is witnessing one of the worst civilian massacres since World War II. By recapturing the city, Bashar al-Assad is aiming to re-establish full control over the country by butchering hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children.

What Life is Like in Aleppo 

About 50,000 citizens are still living in the city. Women are committing suicide to escape the threat of being raped by Assad’s forces. Trapped in their homes, citizens are posting goodbye videos on social media, minutes away from death. They still have no access to food, water, and medical supplies.

Turkey called for a ceasefire to allow the remaining 50,000 people living in Aleppo to leave. But Iran and Hezbollah opposed the ceasefire deal because they were excluded from the discussion. Rather than saving lives, Iran and Hezbollah are more interested in playing politics.

International Silence is Deafening

At an emergency meeting on Syria, Ambassador Samantha Power launched a scathing attack on Assad and his allies: “Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin?”

In a joint statement, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham commented: “This is the inevitable result of hollow words and inaction, red lines crossed without consequences, tarnished moral influence, ‘leading from behind,’ and a total lack of American leadership.”

Yet, the US failed to take decisive action. Secretary Kerry sent mixed messages when commenting on Assad and regime change. President Obama used weak measures to combat Assad. The US supported moderate Syrian rebels but not generously enough to force out Assad. We sent in a small number of special forces, the CIA ran a few programs, but none of these actions suggested a serious desire to end the conflict.

Russia and Iran continue to supply the Syrian military with weapons, equipment, and even soldiers. Russia has vetoed UN Security Council resolutions demanding an end to the bombing of Aleppo. Foreign leaders must accept the responsibility for their failure to save Syrian lives.

Practical Steps Must Be Taken

As of September, only 10,000 Syrian refugees were admitted into the US. More than half of the nation's governors called to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the US. Overcome by fear and politics, elected leaders like Senator Ted Cruz — forgetting that America is a nation of immigrants — have made it clear that these refugees are not welcome. But, we as Americans have the responsibility to remind Syrians that they are as American as other immigrant communities.

The international community has the power to fix the situation. Here are four ways to do so:

  1. More than 2,000 fleeing Syrians drowned in the Mediterranean. Countries can prevent this by investing in search and rescue operations to immediately help people in distress.
  2. Turkey and Germany are some of the most welcoming countries and allowed millions of Syrian refugees to resettle. Nations need to significantly increase their resettlement quotas, including the United States.
  3. Global leaders must consider reevaluating their refugee programs: allowing people to apply for asylum, treating their refugee claims fairly, resettling the most vulnerable, and providing basics like education and healthcare.
  4. Opening up safe routes to sanctuary, allowing people to reunite with loved ones, and granting refugees visas will save countless lives.

Please consider making a donation to the following organizations that offer assistance to Syrians:

  • Doctors Without Borders: dedicated to providing medical assistance to war-torn countries.
  • The White Helmets: a group of volunteers that rescue trapped Syrian civilians.
  • SAMS Foundation: provides medical and humanitarian relief to the front lines in Syria.
  • UNHRC: provides refugees in war-torn countries with necessities such as hygiene kits, sleeping bags, and medicine.
  • Oxfam International: provides showers, clean water, and toilets to those currently living in refugee camps.



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