Islamic Relief is one of the few aid agencies still operational inside Aleppo, Syria’s most densely populated city, which has now seen its last major supply route cut off. Below are five reasons why the battle for Aleppo has been labelled as a ‘shame on humanity’
“Everywhere in Aleppo is a target – mosques, morgues, markets, bakeries, hospitals, ambulances, fire trucks. Nowhere is safe any more. This is the shame of humanity.” – Ahmed Mahmoud, Islamic Relief Syria
With the vital Castello Road lifeline cut off, aid cannot reach the many thousands of people living under siege with supplies running low. Of the 300,000 civilians inside Eastern Aleppo, local figures suggest 155,000 are women and 21,000 are children under two. Ahmed Mahmoud says: “Most of the people left in Aleppo are people who are not able to move – people with disabilities, older people, or the poorest of the poor. “There was a time when the people that could get out were selling their furniture just so they could rent a car and leave the city. “Some people remain because they don’t want to die in an air strike on a refugee camp, or by drowning trying to cross the Mediterranean, or in a difficult situation in the desert because the border they are trying to cross is closed.”
Recent reports suggest intensified attacks have left hundreds dead and many more injured, and chronic shortages of food, water and medical aid threaten further deaths.
Attacks have left hospitals (including the last women’s hospital) inoperable, and only two makeshift ‘field hospitals’ now remain. The only blood bank in Aleppo has also been damaged, as well as the building where dead bodies are taken. Without access to medical aid, and with such minimal medical facilities, how can the people of Aleppo survive as attacks intensify?
Fuel supplies are getting very low, and this will increasingly affect all aspects of life inside the city – electricity, medical facilities and bakeries all depend on fuel.
“If this problem is not solved soon it will be a huge catastrophe,” says Ahmed Mahmoud.
The city’s markets are almost bare, with just a small supply of locally grown vegetables, and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that remaining food supplies are only enough to feed 145,000 people for less than three weeks.
Ahmed Mahmoud says: “I was talking to our staff in Aleppo just the other day when there was an air strike on an adjacent building and we had to cut the call. “The team there is still functional and they’re still in touch with the local council, who are now trying to ration stocks of all items within the city.”
Islamic Relief has prepared stock ready for distribution, and our Syria team is also refilling a warehouse just outside Aleppo in preparation for the reopening of any route back into the city.