The crisis in Aleppo, Syria came to a head this week as President Bashar al-Assad’s military, backed by the Russians, reclaimed the eastern parts of the city held by rebel forces. Human rights abuses abounded as reports came of bodies in the streets and execution style killings of civilians as government forces brutally took back Aleppo.
Syrian people who still lived in the rebel held areas, including many women and children, were caught in the bombing and shelling of Aleppo this week, with very little recourse. Some began saying their goodbyes on Facebook and Twitter calling out to the international community for help. As of today, a three day evacuation of remaining civilians has been suspended.
On December 13th, international powers gathered at the United Nations in a Security Council Emergency briefing. The US ambassador Samantha Power called out Iran, Russia and Syria, telling them that “Aleppo will join the ranks of those events in world history that define modern evil, that stain our conscience decades later. Halabja, Rwanda, Srebrenica, and, now, Aleppo.”
Power asked the ambassadors, “Is there literally nothing that can shame you?”
Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin fired back, “Remember what country you’re representing. Remember your own country’s track record, and then you can start opining from any position of moral supremacy.”
This morning, President Vladamir Putin and President Erdogan of Turkey (who supports the Syrian rebellion), called for a ceasefire and peace talks in Syria, while President Assad celebrates the “liberation” of Aleppo.
Although Syrian civilians have been taken to safer areas away from Aleppo, we should remember that forced removal from one’s home is a human rights violation. The UN reports that 6000 people have left Syria since yesterday, after the ceasefire began. According to CNBC, 50,000 people still remain in Aleppo.
While it is clear that no one in the international community can claim moral authority in this situation, what remains true is that the Syrian people are suffering and we are bound to help them in any way that we can. Check out UNICEF’s work for Syria’s children, donate to the White Helmets, who have been on rescue missions across the region, and donate to Hand in Hand for Syria, which provides medical aid and resources inside Syria.
Photo Credits: Flickr