SAU Buzz

U.N. orders ceasefire in eastern Ghouta

by Mary Roche
Posted on Mar 02, 2018


Earlier this week, the United Nations Security Council called for a ceasefire in regards to the Syrian government bombing of eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus in Syria. The ceasefire would allow aid to come in and assist with evacuation and healthcare in a city where nearly 350 people have died in the past few weeks.

The vote comes after significant delays from Russian ambassador Vasily A. Nebenzya. He argued for stalling the motion because an earlier resolution would not resolve anything.

“This kind of an unrealistic approach will do nothing to address the issues,” Mr. Nebenzya said in an address to the Security Council.

U.S. ambassador Nikki R. Haley tweeted about how frustrating the stalling was.

“In the three days it took us to adopt this resolution,” Haley said to the Council, “how many mothers lost their kids to the bombing and shelling? How many more images did we need to see of fathers holding their dead children?All for nothing, because here we are, voting for a cease-fire that could have saved lives days ago.”

This resolution asks that the Syrian government stop their constant bombing of eastern Ghouta so humanitarian forces can get in. They would then evacuate the estimated 350,000 civilians still trapped there.

While this resolution hopes to help civilians in Ghouta, it is not aimed toward peace, just aid. Sweden ambassador Olof Skoog introduced it in hopes that it would at least reduce damage to civilian life.

The Syrian government has been bombarding eastern Ghouta since Feb. 4. Over 1,200 people have been killed or injured in the recent bombings, and the remaining citizens have been taking shelter where possible. Most civilians have found shelter underground in basements and bomb shelters.

However, this measure may not help Ghoutans. If the U.N. refuses to enforce the ceasefire, there is no reason for the Syrian government to stop bombing civilians.

“These are hundreds of thousands of civilians who have been trapped for over five years under siege, suffering deprivation of their most basic needs, and are now facing relentless bombing,” top U.N. human rights official Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein wrote in a statement last week. “How much cruelty will it take before the international community can speak with one voice to say enough dead children, enough wrecked families, enough violence, and take resolute, concerted action to bring this monstrous campaign of annihilation to an end?”

For some, these underground shelters will also become graves. Entire communities have crowded into these dark shelters. This could cause health problems, especially for children. Aid groups have said conditions in the shelters have limited facilities and ventilation. But that’s not the worst part.

“The scariest moments are when rockets land, then silence follows,” Ms. Khoda Khayti said to The New York Times on a Facebook video call. “We feel our souls are leaving our bodies when the plane gets close, and we feel relieved after it goes away.”

Khayti told The Times that she prefers staying above ground, because the basement sometimes seem like a trap. For other families, the shelters foster a sense of community where they can share their experience.