While 2 days of UN peace talks on Syria open in Vienna, people are still dying on the ground. Since the beginning of the year the capital is object of an incessant launch of mortars. The dramatic story from the hospital that has welcomed the dead and wounded. The silence of the Western media on the unfolding tragedy.
Damascus (AsiaNews) - Today in Vienna (Austria), two days of UN peace talks dedicated to Syria are opening. Both the governmental and rebel groups delegations are expected to discuss steps towards a stable and lasting ceasefire in the context of a conflict that has already caused over 340 thousand victims. At the same time, the Turks' offensive continues in the northern region of Afrin, where clashes between Ankara troops and Kurdish militias have already caused at least 32 victims, including civilians. In an ever-changing Syrian scenario, in recent weeks there has been an increase in violence that has also affected the capital, Damascus, causing dozens of victims and injuries. The Christian community itself is also targeted, with serious damage to churches and places of worship and the deaths of men, women and children. Below, the testimony of the communication manager for Caritas Syria:
On January 1, Al-Qaida linked groups launched a wide-scale offensive to capture a key military base in the eastern countryside of the capital Damascus. The Vehicle Base is the largest military facility in the Eastern Ghouta region, stretching from Harasta to Arbeen.
The base contains large numbers of soldiers, as well as big weapon depots.
Since then, Syrian airstrikes started targeting the positions of Al-Qaida in the city of Harasta, and Al-Qaida hitting Damascus neighborhoods from time to time with mortar shells, especially the old part of the city, where many churches and Christian schools are located.
In the last twenty days, more than five churches were hit by mortar shells, causing material damage and many killed and injured among civilians.
Yesterday, at 2:15 pm, which is rush hour in Damascus, when students leave their schools, and a lot of employees leave their place of work, mortar shells started hitting the old city (Bab Touma, Bab Sharki and Al-Amin Street). The results of the shells attack were 12 killed and around 31 injured.
The French Hospital (St. Louis Hospital) was the main hospital to receive injured people as it is the closest hospital to the old city.
To have better idea about the humanitarian situation from yesterday, I would like to share some stories from the French hospital with you, which were written by a lady who was there during the difficult hours that followed the attack:
“Lord, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the Evil of Jobar”
This was the first time that I heard the screaming and crying of people, students, parents in a hospital corridor!
I saw a mother who had been killed surrounded by her children who were calling her, as if they were trying to wake her up from her sleep “Mama… Mama”
I saw a family of a father who is in the intensive care now, a mother who was severely wounded and a three year old boy who lost his life, because his parents decided to take him for a walk on a sunny day… The grandmother of the boy was crying, cursing, screaming… No one could blame her. She was a grandma few minutes ago, now she is no more… she is now a grieving mother who was begging doctors to give her some news about her son in the intensive care…
I saw a woman crying over her husband who was walking beside her in the street a few minutes ago, when the mortar shell made him fly away from her like a piece of paper …
I saw a 15 year old girl who was covered by blood. Her name was Rita, she is now an angel in the sky.
I saw a mother who was telling people around her that she recently registered her daughter in a gym to do some aerobics, but now the daughter can’t do that anymore, she lost one leg, and the other one is in a critical situation…
I saw blood, water and detergent all over the ground of the hospital. Doctors were running all around. They were working and crying at the same time. Have you ever seen such a thing? Have you ever seen a hospital director running all the time with bloody gloves? Even the janitor of the hospital was moving between people trying to calm them down, he was crying too…
“Lord, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the Evil of Jobar… Amen”
Yesterday morning, we received a photo, which had made my day. It was the photo of Rabee who was taking his first step using his new prosthetics with a big smile on his face. We have never seen such a smile on the face of this 15 year old boy who lost his legs and his father one year ago in a mortar shell in Damascus. Since then, Caritas has been supporting Rabee and his family (mother and three siblings who are all minors) after they lost their bread winner. Their story was told by AsiaNews. (read here).
Last night, I received a photo of a 15 year old girl “Christine”, who lost her leg yesterday because of shrapnel. Christine might need a long time to be able to smile again, especially that till now; she still doesn’t know that she lost her leg and her best friend Rita!
Today I received two photos, one of them speaks of a tragedy that has begun to find hope, the other one speaks of hope which has suddenly become a tragedy…
Although the situation is still not calm but dangerous, what really saddens us is that you will not hear of these stories from the big international media corporations, these are hidden victims. You will not be aware of their miserable fate, the world will not know of the tragedy that took place on January 22 in Damascus, when a group of students was just trying to return to their homes.
For once I do not want to conclude with the request to pray for Syria. Rather, I ask you to speak up loudly about this tragedy that is still being consumed in the country, and that is often forgotten for one reason or another by the great Western media.
* Caritas Syria Communications Manager