Syria's humanitarian disaster

Updated: 2013-11-04 07:14

(China Daily)

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While the world focuses its attention on the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons, one tragic fact is being neglected: An increasing number of Syrian people are dying of hunger.

The latest issue of the Beijing-based bi-weekly magazine Global People carried an editorial urging more attention be given to the growing humanitarian disaster in the Middle East country.

Before the "Arab Spring" reached Syria, there was no need to worry about food or clothing. However, as the regional unrest has spread, the country, which used to be self-sufficient in feeding its people, is under the growing threat of famine.

There have been pictures posted on the Internet showing Syrian children dying of hunger. When this year's Corban Festival, also known as Eid al-Adha, or day of sacrifice, came on Oct 15, the plight of the Syrian people was in stark contrast to their happy memories of the gala in the past.

The two-year long Syrian crisis has resulted in the deaths of almost 100,000 people. One-third of the population has been forced to leave their homes, including 2 million that have swarmed into neighboring countries and another 5 million displaced in their own country.

International organizations including the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization have promised to provide food to the 3 million famine victims in Syria. But such efforts have been dampened as Western countries, the US and the members of the European Union included, are imposing sanctions against the Syrian government.

Why have those in the West who have been trumpeting democracy, freedom and human rights chosen to turn a blind eye to the famine-stricken Syrians? The world has good reasons to ask why they cannot devote some attention and energy to alleviating the humanitarian disaster in the Middle East country.

It seems that toppling the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is the only aim of Western countries' interference in Syria. They appear to care little about the Syrian people or the country's future. Worse, some countries that have shut their doors against Syrian refugees have been keen on providing weaponry to Syrian rebel forces.

The belligerent forces should cease fighting and engage in dialogue and negotiations to reduce enmity and reach a peaceful solution to the crisis.

(China Daily 11/04/2013 page8)