Syria Live Coverage: Starving in Aleppo

Sunday, December 23, 2012  | Scott Lucas in EA Live, EA Middle East  

Saturday’s Syria Live Coverage: “The Land Where Assad Killed Santa Claus”

1500 GMT: Claimed footage of regime bombing of Houla, near Homs:

1230 GMT: Claimed footage of regime warplane bombing the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta:

0950 GMT: The insurgent Liwa’a Al-Fatah Brigade is claiming that it has captured the headquarters of the regime’s 135th brigade in Efrin, a largely-Kurdish town in the north.

The insurgents claimed 10 regime troops were killed, 20 wounded, and 35 captured, with 25 fleeing.

0650 GMT: The Local Coordination Committees claims the deaths of 143 people on Saturday, including 75 in Damascus and its suburbs and 30 in Aleppo Province.

0640 GMT: We open with yet another story of the worsening humanitarian situation in Aleppo, this time from Yara Bayoumy of Reuters:

    A 60-year-old man wrapped in several layers of clothes lines up alongside his shivering grandchildren for bread — a daily and often fruitless ritual that consumes most of his day.

    Shielding himself from the rain in Bustan al-Qasr, a rebel-held district in the southwest of Syria’s biggest city, Alaa el-Din Hout says shortages of food and fuel are driving his family and many other residents to desperation.

    “We’re starving. I can bear it but what about my children? I stand from 3 in the afternoon until 11 at night and you can’t always get bread,” said Hout, wearing a winter hat and scarf to keep out the winter cold.

    “We’re reduced to either begging or stealing.”

The immediate cause of the deprivation is the five months of fighting and stalemate between insurgents and the regime in Syria’s largest city, but the crisis is reinforced by a shattered distribution system and possibly by corruption. A tradesman complains:

    Everyone here is asking same questions these days. Why don’t government-owned bakeries in the city have any bread? You can find it at private shops, but at sky-high prices. A pack of bread which used to cost 15-25 Syrian pounds (up to 50 U.S. cents, at the rate before the war) is now being sold for up to 200 pounds (more than $2 at the current exchange rate).

    When we hear that the Syrian army is bringing in bread and distributing it to people, we rush to the place, hoping to get some for our families. But then we are pushed away by other “better citizens” – their favored people – those who are holding guns and working as government thugs. They take hundreds of packs from the truck, such that there is not enough left for even half the people waiting in line!