“We were eating leaves and grass, but these days there are no more leaves because of the snow,” says Abu Hassan Shadi, a rescue worker in Madaya. Speaking by telephone to “Independent”, he says, “There is nothing left but salt and water. One or two people have been dying daily of hunger over the past week since snow fell on the mountain town and blanketed the last remaining vegetation”.
“What began as a peaceful uprising against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad six years ago became a full-scale civil war that has left more than 300,000 people dead, devastated the country and drawn in global powers”, reports BBC News.
Syrian civil war is one of the most horrendous and killing wars of the modern times. Millions of people took part in fighting it from one side or the other. However, the ones that are most affected are those innocents who are not involved in the war. They are the ones who decided to remain neutral as they wanted to stay away from the horrors and brutalities of war.
The armed conflict has taken its toll on the local population in many ways. The most significant of all the ways is hunger. One of the major agricultural products of Syria is barley and wheat. During the year 1985 a record 1.7 million tons of wheat and 740, 000 tons of barley crops were produced, however, now Syria faces an acute food shortage and steep price rise. The country stands devastated due to the war-induced hunger.
Hunger is deliberately used as a weapon during armed conflicts. The adversaries generally try to starve opponents into submission by causing food shortage and famines. The siege tactics in this form of warfare involve seizing or cutting food supplies, capturing livestock, and other products in food-producing regions; stopping marketed food supplies in these regions. It also involves diverting food relief away from the affected population to the militants and their supporters. Farmers killed by direct terror attacks. Enslavement or forced recruitment also ensures that there is no agriculture produce and people meet a horrible end through malnutrition or direct starvation.
According to the newspaper “Independent “published in the UK, ‘People are going hungry in many locations in Syria, but ¬Madaya appears to be the worst-afflicted by far. The Syrian government has long used siege tactics to compel the surrender of towns that fell under rebel control during the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.”
It quotes Abu Shadi who says, that at the entrance to Madaya, pro-Assad fighters have hung a sign proclaiming “Kneel or starve,” a slogan intended to capture the stark choice confronting rebels in the besieged communities.
A report carried on the website of Hezbollah’s al-Manar television station says “Terrorist groups are exclusively responsible for starving out the civilians in the town”. The towns of Al-Fu’ah and Kefraya also have not received aid, the report further added.
During an acute shortage of food when milk was totally unavailable, the photograph of a mother feeding her daughter with diluted jam and water brings a lump in our throats. Videos and photographs of haggard and cheeky boned people, which have been posted on social ¬media, suggest that conditions are pretty grave.
We know that hunger just does not kill people it even forces them to do tasks which are against one’s own dignity and ideals such as begging and prostitution. The only good news in the whole affair is that we can save them. Yes, save them. The United Nations have been sending a regular aid to these war-torn areas. We can also contribute our own drop in the ocean. We can just donate the food that is waste for us. If we all decide to contribute just a little we can well imagine the entire amount of help the entire world can provide.
While we pledge to eradicate hunger, natural factors like drought, poverty and infertility are easier to be dealt with, but the human-induced war is the biggest hurdle to handle.
We the people of this planet have to understand that our earth is just a speck of dust in this vast universe, which has existed for thousands of years. Some of us, in our obscurity, commit atrocities on our innocent fellow beings. They torture and starve and maim the helpless, so that they become the momentary masters of the minuscule population of this dot in the universe, that too for just a fraction of the time period of our galaxy.
In our misplaced self-importance, we forget that this fervent, posturing and delusional hatred is slowly engulfing the mankind. Mother Nature has provided enough for every living being to survive. Only a little wisdom of sharing has to be imbibed into every human being. We all have to spend a little time on this earth so why be greedy? Let us donate the extra food we have. Let us all join hands to be sagacious from today. We shall say NO to hunger and NO to war.