In 2011 there were peaceful protests for the reform of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. Assad had a violent response and used military forces to attack civilians. They used tanks, helicopters, and artillery and opened fire on demonstrators. Children were tortured and executed which triggered more protests. In 2013 the Syrian government started to use chemical weapons, which killed over 1,400 people. Around 240,000 Syrians have been killed since 2011 and 12 million were forced to flee their homes.
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Syrian kids tell how the war has affected them. One kid says that he's had 80 relatives killed and 18 wounded. A 9 year old mentions that he always has dreams of monsters and the black abyss. A 12-year-old boy mentions how he was alone when he was maimed by a rocket and was unable to get help until his uncle found him. One boy's father left for work one day but was killed by a shell. He's had to work ever since then to take care of his family. A 6-year-old girl says all their homes were burned down from the bombs. Another boy says both their homes and lives have been destroyed.
YouTube - BBC News
In Syria over 12,000 people have been tortured and killed in prisons since the start of the conflict. Some of the lasting effects of torture are physical pain, paranoia, sleep deprivation, and emotional withdrawal. Victims share their stories of being tortured; from being beaten, to electric shocks, rape, only being given bits of food to survive and using the toilet once a day, they were all subject to brutal abuse in detention.
In April 2017 there was a chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun that killed around 50-80 people and wounded 300. Victims were fainting, choking, vomiting, and foaming at the mouth. A hospital where victims were being treated was slammed by a rocket, making it difficult for medics to treat the victims. Another hospital was bombed later that week, wounding at least 10 people. Over the year there have been reports of 71 attacks on 32 health facilities in Syria.
Over the last few years the city of Aleppo has become a humanitarian disaster. Thousands have been affected from the bombing raids, use of chemical weapons, and air strikes. With many homes destroyed people have been forced to find shelter in alleyways, damaged buildings, or with other people. Those left are also unable to grow vegetables or raise animals leaving many people starving. The lack of medical care has also made it difficult for those remaining to survive.
By 2016 many of the public schools in Aleppo had been destroyed and only about half the children remaining were still attending school. With all the bombings going on many children had been out of school from a year to a couple years due to safety concerns. Across Syria 1 in 4 schools were unusable because of damage or being used for shelters. There has also been a lack of funding, inadequate curriculum, and cancellation of classes. The ongoing crisis has increased the rate of school dropouts. Since then many schools have been rebuilt and children are starting to return to school, but without all the children receiving a proper education some are losing hope of rebuilding the country.
The crisis is Aleppo left most neighborhoods without water since the military had destroyed the pipes. There was also barely any transportation so people have to walk everywhere and use carts to transport the injured. Food prices became extremely expensive. Many have returned to Aleppo since the beginning of the year, but many neighborhoods are still destroyed and people are short of clean water and electricity.
During the last months of battle in Aleppo the government used chemical weapons, all believed to be chlorine gas, which killed civilians. In August 2016 there was an attack that killed at least 3 people and injured 25. In September 2016 another attacked affected about 100 people. Between November through December 2016 there were at least 8 reports of attacks in residential areas that killed 9 people and injured another 200.
YouTube - Human Rights Watch
The mountain town of Madaya is one of the besieged areas of Syria that has left many people struggling to survive and living in fear. There has been bombing, shelling, and snipers. In 2015 about 65 people starved to death due to lack of food supplies. In 2016 there was still insufficient food supplies as well as gas and diesel. Families had to resort to using their furniture to burn so they could stay warm or use it to cook.
In Syria the government has been using a "surrender or starve" strategy in six besieged areas: Daraya, eastern Aleppo city, al-Waer, Madaya, Kefraya and Foua, which has caused thousands to be displaced. The residents in those areas have been deprived of food, medicine, electricity, and water. They're also victims of attacks from air strikes, shelling, and snipers. The crimes of humanity against the civilians have forced them to leave their homes and live in makeshift camps, also leaving several without many resources to earn a living.
The violence against civilians in Syria continues. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, it is the worst since the battle in Aleppo ended last year. In October 2017 there were reports of 10 hospitals being damaged within 10 days. The air strikes along explosive devices and cruise missiles have been used to attack civilians. Many are still struggling with basic needs such as water and food.
Eastern Ghouta is another one of the besieged areas in Syria that has been under tight government restrictions since 2013. Like the other besieged cities and towns there is insufficient food and medical supplies, causing the prices to increase dramatically. There have been three aerial attacks since November 14 that killed 23 people and wounding several others. Both the air and ground attacks have killed 190 civilians from November 14 through November 30. One resident said they have to choose whether to hide in the basement from the strikes or risk standing in line for 2 hours to get bread for their children. Those that have been seriously injured have also been restricted from evacuating Eastern Ghouta, but there has been some progress and at least 29 people today were finally able to leave to receive medical attention.
With the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria about 1 million Syrians have fled to Lebanon. They've come to restart their lives but many are living in poverty and have been victims of harassment. Several have reported feeling unsafe in Lebanon. One woman received a message with a man saying for anyone who sees a Syrian to hit him. Some political parties have resentment towards the refugees, asking them to return home which has increased the hostility towards the Syrians.
Over the last few years around 5 million Syrians have fled to their country to escape persecution. Around 1 million have arrived in Europe since 2015 and around 4,200 have died or went missing along their way. Hungary, Serbia, and Croatia have all built fences along their borders. Austria has also started to close off its borders to the refugees who are desperate to relocate. According to the World Economic Forum, is the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.
YouTube - World Economic Forum
There have been a number of investigations for the crimes against humanity in Syria and in October 2017 the European courts were the first to prosecute and convict those responsible. Sweden and Germany are the two countries that have stepped forward with justice for the Syrian genocide and war crimes. Both Sweden and Germany have strong systems in place for investigations and prosecutions, however there is difficulty due to the lack of access to the crime scenes. The refugees have reiterated the importance of justice for the loss of their family members.