Syria Slides toward Humanitarian Disaster
For the past two years, the popular upsurge against President Assad's oppressive regime and the consequent retaliatory action by the Syrian army has led the country to such a sorry impasse that they are now facing the prospect of humanitarian disaster. There looks to be no end in sight of the continuous killing of innocent people including women, children, and even the elderly by the Syrian army, many of whose senior officers have already deserted to join the rebels.
The crisis now affects a significantly large segment of population, an estimated four million people, or around 20 percent of the population of Syria, who lack both food and shelter and have taken refuge in temporary dwellings provided by neighbouring countries along with nearly three million people displaced within Syria itself.
Prevailing conditions have grown increasingly desperate as the Syrian winter sets in, and many families are living in tents without adequate woollen clothing. UN relief measures have been severely hampered. The UN reports that reduced rations are being offered to 1.5 million Syrians due to ever increasing demands against dwindling resources. UN relief official John Ging, the director of operations at the UN's office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, aptly commented:
"People are losing hope because they just see more violence on the horizon, they just see deterioration... It's becoming more and more difficult just to do the very basic things to help people to survive,".
The UN news service IRIN added:
"As the Syrian conflict drags on, shelters are filling up, support systems are breaking down, savings are running out and violence is engulfing an increasing number of communities..."
Similarly, the World Health Organization reported that,
"the fighting has partly or completely destroyed half of the country's 88 public hospitals and 186 of its 1,919 local health care centers. Particularly devastating has been the attack on Syria's pharmaceutical industry... Basic medicines have become unavailable and the price for drugs that are available has risen so steeply as to place them out of the reach of most of the population."
Against this horrible scenario, even the United Nations is not able to cope. Its ambitious $ 1.5 billion fundraising drive for relief operations has so far raised less than half of the target amount. With such an extreme resource crunch for basic human requirements of food, water, shelter, warm clothing, medicines and other necessities at this crucial juncture, it appears that Syria is truly moving toward a humanitarian disaster.