Saturday, December 17, 2016

An Appeal for Aleppo

The world has stood witness to the death and destruction in Syria for half a decade, now. Aleppo, Syria’s largest and most ancient city, has been subjected to unprecedented agony during this violent conflict. The extent of has now reached such a cruel pinnacle that despairing residents have taken to sending out wrenching, curdling and very public, farewells.

The Ancient City of Aleppo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here is what its journey during the Syrian Civil War has been like so far:
  • The city was divided between a government-held west and a rebel-held east, with two northern districts held by the YPG, from July 20 to November 2016
  • The Syrian Army supply lines were cut between October 2012 and October 2013, before bring re-established from the south.
  • From Mid-to-late 2014, the Syrian Army captured the entire stretch of the eastern and north-eastern approaches to the city.
  • The Syrian Army cut all the rebel supply routes between February 2016 and July 2016, besieging the rebel-held part of Aleppo.
  • There were two rebel offensives between August and November 2016, to break the siege. These were repelled.
  • As of December 16, 2016, the Syrian Army has gained control over 93 to 98% of the formerly rebel-held east. The rebels have been reported to be near-defeat.
  • A ceasefire agreement under which the rebels are supposed to withdraw was reached on December 15, 2016, but it has not been observed..

With four years and counting of the war, the Battle of Aleppo has represented one of the longest sieges in modern warfare. It has left an estimated 31,000 people dead,[1] which accounts for nearly a tenth of all of the overall war casualties so far. According to the ICRC, it appears that there has been indiscriminate shelling of residential areas across Aleppo, and infectious diseases have broken out in Aleppo, including polio, measles and cutaneous leishmaniasis.

Aleppo has been the site of many war crimes. According to a UNCHR statement in November 2016, there have been strikes against hospitals, schools, markets, water facilities and eateries. 250,000 civilians were left in the city in November 2016, and UNICEF estimated that there were 100,000 children.

The Syrian Government has been aided by the Russian Army, and has used war planes to bomb hospitals and rebel areas in Aleppo. (UN News Center, November 17, 2016). By the end of November 2016, there have been no functional hospitals left. (UN News Center, November 29, 2016). According to Human Rights Watch, the Syrian / Russian military campaign killed over 440 civilians, including over 90 children between September and October 2016, and the airstrikes have been reportedly recklessly indiscriminate. (Human Rights Watch, December 14, 2016).

That the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that the good do nothing rings true like never before. But, goodness in the world is alive yet. Despite the seeming void of hope, there are those who continue to fight for these people of Aleppo, and of Syria.

We now ask you to also lay siege on human apathy.

To civilians:
We ask you to lay siege by sparing a penny and sparing a word. We ask you to find in your hearts, the goodness to give, and the courage to talk.
  •     Use this list of organizations to choose one and donate and offer up your time or money.
  •     Use our postcard template, (print, write on the flip side, and post) and petition your government and the United Nations Headquarters in New York to act for Syria and support the end of hostilities and violence on ground  

To governments:
We implore you to lay siege on silence. We ask you to look at this as an issue against humanity and to look beyond borders. You are leaders of a people – of humanity – and you can stand up for people whose leaders have turned against them. Please press for action to end the conflict and enforce a ceasefire that can culminate in the end of the atrocities and the war crimes.

To the United Nations:
We implore you to lay siege on inaction. We request the Security Council to rise above petty political considerations and look at Syria as a Human Rights Vaccum. The United Nations was established, among other things, to save the succeeding generations from the scourge of war. In not addressing this grave humanitarian crisis, the United Nations is failing in its very duty. To this end:
       - We implore the Security Council to call for an end of hostilities and implement a ceasefire immediately.
-      - We implore the Security Council to rely on Chapter VII of the UN Charter to invoke the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court to bring all war criminals to book. We rely on the precedents of the Security Council’s invocation of the ICC’s jurisdiction in the Darfur and Libyan issues.
-      - We implore the UN General Assembly, if the Security Council is unable to arrive at the aforementioned conclusion, to step in under the ambit of Resolution 377 A, called the “Uniting for Peace Resolution,” and issue recommendations to restore peace and security in Syria, and work for its enforcement.

[1] Violations Documentation Center in Syria: Aleppo (2012-2016) – Violations Documenting Center