International community attention, in December 2016, focused particularly on the situation of Aleppo. There were thousands of losses among civilians, including many children. Despite they sought refuge in cellars were unable to avoid the repeated and daily bombing by the coalition that supports the regime, engaged in regaining control of the East part of the city. More than 900 bombs a day were dropped.
Around the middle of the month an agreement was reached, thanks to the mediation of Turkey and Russia, which led to the evacuation of the remaining Syrians. Evacuees faced difficult days due to weather conditions and the lack of any basic necessity. Several children died because of this total abandonment. Despite international attention, United Nations and other organizations for Human Rights denounced the disappearance of at least 500 men and boys while getting out of the city. In addition, there is evidence of collective executions and revenge by militias who support the action of Assad.
The war is not going to stop and Assad himself stated that it will continue until he will regain full control of the state. This implies that the front line is moving in other provinces such as Idlib and Damascus, where hundreds of thousands people are likely to suffer the same violence and repression of the people in Aleppo.
In Lebanon an agreement on the creation of a government has finally being reached. It will be a broad coalition also supported by Hezbollah that is going to be confirmed by the elections to be held in May 2017. The formation of the new government has not led to substantial improvements in the daily lives of refugees in the country.
Sharing, Work and News about Volunteers
During December, Operazione Colomba volunteers have been carrying on with the different accompanying activities and visits to Syrian families in the Akkar region. The crisis of Aleppo led to the arrival of dozens of new families in the area, where they live in precarious conditions and without enough support from international organizations. We have tried to take action to resolve urgent health situations due to the precarious living conditions of the Syrians. For example, we helped in the case of a child severely burned as a result of a short circuit that set fire in his tent.
This month has been full of tragic episodes. People survived after having fled the war are likely to lose their lives in trivial accidents because of precarious living conditions. In the camp next to ours which hosts 350 people, half of which are children, a little girl of four years died after falling in the drain pit of sewage which was not properly closed. Volunteers asked the United Nations to check and see if and how the error has been committed. In addition to health issues, we took care to provide for the material needs: MSF contacted the volunteers in Tel Abbas and offered to send 500 blankets, 250 mattresses and 100 kitchen sets to the families most in need.
Reporting of families eligible for Humanitarian Corridors in cooperation with the Community of Sant’Egidio has been going on too.
A Belgian delegation came to visit the camp in Tel Abbas bringing games for children. Volunteers organized two moments of celebration with the children of the camp on the occasion of Christmas and New Year’s Eve with playtime and music.
Volunteers, thanks to contacts with associations working within the Palestinian camps, had the opportunity to visit two of them: Shatila and Nahr el-Bared. People here live in socially disadvantaged conditions and represent another side of Lebanon which deserves more attention.