Tragedy in Aleppo

250,000 people are trapped in a literal war zone of terror and death. Clawing for survival amongst the ruins of their shattered lives, the civilians of Aleppo are caught in a bloody civil war. Children are being struck with poisonous gas, and entire hospitals are being shelled into hell.

For most of us not up to date on the latest international news, this can seem to come out of nowhere. How did this situation get to be so bad, who is responsible, and how can we help? These kinds of questions might have been the first to come to your head, I know they did in mine.

Aleppo has been engaged in this civil war for about five years, understanding this and the crimes that have been committed might help us take a few steps towards comprehending the situation and being able to help.

History Lesson: The conflict over Aleppo began after the Arab Spring, a fancy word to describe the wave of protests and revolutions that took place to dethrone traditional rulers in favor a democratic government styles. Unfortunately, most of these became violent and the one in Syria is still going on.

Aleppo, which is the largest city in Syria a source of trade and production, was split in two. Some sought to keep the regime of their President, Bashar al-Assad, while those considered to be Rebels fought against his rule.

The President’s fist came down hard and the military moved in on the rebels in the city. The rebel forces hid amongst the civilians hoping that they would be considered safe. They were wrong. 

Dark Deeds: With the history out of the way, we can focus on the now. I’m sure you all have seen the terrible atrocities being committed against the people of this city. One that shook most people was the video of 5-year-old boy Omran Daqneesh completely traumatized by his exposure to war.

Social Media Outcry: With the advent of the social media platform, most humans have been able to see through the eyes of those who are countless miles away. This technology has brought humanity closer together, and in Aleppo, it allows us to see the real tragedy of the human condition that is war.

Social media diaries have become a new thing in Aleppo as the besieged cry out for aid. This is what brought the global spotlight to the Middle Eastern country, the social media sharing of the incredible devastation being wrought.

Some of these are heart-wrenching pleas for help, others of them seem to be disheartened acceptances of their death. I do not believe any such thing has ever occurred in the history of humanity. That the world can have a front row seat to the suffering and death of an entire city.

Recent Developments: Recently, the government secured victory in Aleppo and to the delight of the United Nations they called a ceasefire. Officials were stunned when they awoke the next morning to find that ceasefire violated and the bombing resumed.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said: “While the reasons for the breakdown in the ceasefire are disputed, the resumption of extremely heavy bombardment by the Syrian government forces and their allies in an area packed with civilians is almost certainly a violation of international law and most likely constitutes war crimes."

While many believed that the ceasefire would allow civilians to be evacuated, this new development will push back the humanitarian efforts of the international community. The accusation of war crimes presents a new and dangerous challenge to the Syrian regime that will be interesting to see play out.

How to Help: Aleppo is truly a place of dire need and circumstance. Without aid, it seems that the best we can hope for is the continued accidental killings of civilians as the civil war continues. For those of us who want to help, we can still do so.Numerous organizations are attempting to aid the inhabitants of Aleppo. Supporting them will help the people of Aleppo survive.

Doctors without Borders is still on the ground and helping as many people as they can. It is these brave volunteers that need our aid as they fight to save the lives of the people of Aleppo during this crisis. Beyond that, we can hope that the United Nations and other powerful countries will seek to intervene should the war in Syria deteriorate further. That political mess would be hard to navigate, but for the sake of thousands of lives, it would be worth it.

I hope that after reading this, you are a little more educated on the topic of Aleppo. As we go out into our daily lives, I believe it is important to understand that a lot more is happening than we realize and that our efforts can help more than we believe. I know that as I get ready to go see the new Star Wars this weekend and watch the brave Rebels fight the tyranny of the Galactic Empire, I’ll know that this kind of story is not so far, far away after all.