Starving Children in Moadamiyeh

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A little girl with advanced Marasmus, video dated Sept. 23, 2013. Rebel records say her name was Rana Obaid, and she died later that same day (see below), #Reported Victims

About one week after the alleged Sarin attacks on the Damsacus suburbs of East Ghouta, and also the southwestern suburb of Moadamiyeh al-Sham, the latter was pushed into the headlines again. The continuing government siege of the rebel-held Moadamiyeh (aka Medmat al-Sham, Medmah, Muadamiyet, etc.), allegedly blocking all food and humanitarian aid was causing people, or at least a few children and babies, to waste away and die before rebel video cameras.

The opposition narrative, supposedly proven by these images, was that siege was killing children and must be ended. But just a moment's thought should be sufficient to wonder why some specific children are starving to death when others -notably the rebels fighting and filming around them - aren't anywhere near as bad off. What happened to sharing with the food that is available, even if it grows scarce?

Reported Victims

Child martyr Ammar, "Died due to the siege of Assad gangs of Medmah City Sham"

August 31, ten days after Moadamiyeh rebels joined in claiming they had been chemically attacked, the new atrocity was aired: the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on their Facebook page publishes a series of posts "Syrian children die of malnutrition."

Two children (aged 3 and 7) from the city of Mou'adamiya have died of Marasmus, which is caused by severe malnutrition in children. This was caused by the severe lack of foodstuffs and aid, as well as doctors treating them were not able to receive required immediate medicines . the rebel held parts of Mou'adamiya are under an intense siege by the regime forces.

That is posted along with a photo of what seems to be the same boy shown at right, and also beneath a photo of a much younger child still in diapers. and another post linking to an article at the syriahr.net website.

The CDV has entries for these two kids, both boys. As the one photo says, the older one is Ammar Arafeh, age 7(different photo yet there, and a video). The other is Ibraheem Khalil, age 3, same photo, video 1, v2, v3. Both died from "other" (there wasn't a category for this), explained "martyred as a result of lack of feeding." --Caustic Logic (talk) 15:59, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

There is no third VDC entry for another boy, or even girl, dying from "other" in Moadamiyeh back to the 28th. Finally translating the title: Child martyr Ibrahim Khalil result undernourishment Medmah the Sham. Okay, that is the 3-year-old. --Caustic Logic (talk) 15:59, 20 October 2013 (UTC)
  • September 23: allegations of regime shelling that was starving more kids in Moadamiya, this time a baby girl "in danger of death" (see top of page image) From: James Miller/EA, Sept. 23: (halfway down the page, upsetting video). He says the girl's suffering is "a result of the continued regime siege." How exactly that translates to this little girl not getting even the scraps shared with her is not spelled out. End the siege. Youtube video direct link. My notes: she seems to be around 18 months old, give or take some months (no expert), but bald like newborn (shaved head? Why?) and poorly kept by someone, cellophane diaper. A rebel doctor jabs at her symptoms at length for our edification. She's breathing hard, looking hard, thinking hard, cooperating, tender all over but jabbed all over, not at death's door but within a few blocks of it. I sense no human compassion coming her way from the people in this room. Subjective I know, but I dare you to test that. And previously, the people around have given her too little food. The Islamist doctor's fingers aren't very bony looking. --Caustic Logic (talk) 08:01, 20 October 2013 (UTC)
Well that suspense didn't last long. CDV entry, Rana Obaid, age 1, a photo to match the video, looking about as alive too, people pulling her arms apart as if she's trying to cross them over her chest: "martyred as a result of hunger and lack of food resulting from the blockade of the city" on September 23, the same day she was filmed still kicking with what seemed (2-3) days left in her. I'd say I find that surprising, but I wouldn't. Also, the video might have been a day or two old, I suppose. --Caustic Logic (talk) 15:59, 20 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oct. 11 Mouadamiyeh: Doaa al-Sheikh age 7, girl, painful photo, apparently before her killing. Mr. KZ sicko morgue guy video - in a diaper, (feeding?) tube in mouth, extremely docile or dead, disintegrating lips stretched open for us, ribs all shown:
  • Oct. 13, Mouadamiyeh: son of Jomaa al-Hamad "Name is unknown, martyred due to malnutrition because of the siege." No images.

There are other victims from the Damascus suburbs, but to be purist, they go in the following section for places other than Moadamiyeh. --Caustic Logic (talk) 08:31, 28 October 2013 (UTC)

Beyond Moadamiyeh

As it proves effective at tugging heartstrings, coincidentally, the regime blockade of food and medicine in different rebel areas of Ghouta hits on the idea of knocking off children despite all human efforts to shield them. I'm seeing this in the CDV database, each with a horrible photo: Douma, Sept. 28, tiny baby starved, "martyred as a result of food shortages due to the blockade." Under category "Un-allowed to seek Medical help," like other tiny babies boy and girl in Douma in these days, some specified from medical shortages rather than food. Same deal. But here's a young boy clearly starved until wasted away with giant open eyes: Sept. 22, in Hejjera. --Caustic Logic (talk) 15:59, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

(not even sure where that is. Ah... Hejira on Wikimapia, in two chunks, just south of Damascus, next to Sayyida Zaynab). --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:27, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

More on babies - optional reading. Scanning the CDV, There was a thing - in Douma of all places - with fetuses, in late June/early July. These come up as un-allowed, some medical problem that made nearly-formed babies come out early and dead. Each one usually comes with a photo and a video. Consider "Balqees the fetus", July 7. "Martyr - Female Fetus- her mother lost her due to the bombing by the regime horror." Same story, same place, for other babies on June 27 and July 1. Lot of Islamist C-sections? Next, fetuses somehow found rotten inside the womb. Harasta-Douma, man... sorry. Can't help it.

Later: Oct. 11, Douma: "unnamed baby boy martyred due to shortage in medical supplies and malnutrition, he is 15 days old, miscarriage child, wasn't named yet." Miscarried explanation there. I didn't list him with the starve above because he isn't. The boy, perhaps "miscarried" (carried poorly) by someone. Heads can turn to the side, but his looks a little too far. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:27, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

Another martyr: Son of Hamzeh Hawwa, unnamed newborn, photo included, chubbly little face. Like so many, he died in Douma (or was from there, anyway), on October 25, from "other : martyred as a result of food shortages because of the blockade of the city." I don't think his face looks emaciated, but maybe there's a more roundabout way a lack of food can kill a newborn.

Human Decency Embargo?

Moadamiyeh rebels greeting UN investigators, Aug. 26. Hey, guy in the Tommy Jeans shirt, you in particular: Why aren't you sharing more of your food with the children there?

In normal, human, non-terrrorist situations, people share first and foremost with the children. Apparently that's not happening uniformly in Moadamiyeh, and that's probably the main problem here. That, and that a blockade of something has some rebels so pissed off they're ready to starve some children to prove the point that it's to blame. That could better explain why the young and no one else is starving; they have the greatest propaganda value once dead. --Caustic Logic (talk) 08:01, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

The best vicitims would be, if available, captives. Maybe the exchange negotiations didn't work out, or you got the ransom but don't want to let the Alawites go. You could gas them, but that's so a couple weeks ago. In September, it's starving. So you put a few kids in some special closets with no food until it's time to film. --Caustic Logic (talk) 08:01, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

I've been pushing these observations in comments, like at two of the SOHR posts above, and elsewhere. My favorite so far is al-Akhbar article on the Ghouta chemical allegations and flaws with the U.N.'s report, I saw a comment by fellow wiki member Clay Claiborne, who shifted the subject to Clay asked So you think your beloved Assad regime didn't do the chemical attack in Moadamiyah? They were killing the people there before the CW attack and they are killing them still. See for example: (links to the Sept. 23 starvation video) So you want to explain how the regime is not responsible for this shelling too?" My response:

Clay, these alleged baby-starving shells are off-topic emotive distractions here, and besides - babies get preference even under siege. If babies are starving and everyone else isn't, (are they? I only see scattered kids) look to the people immediately around that baby. One has a rebel activist video camera. Other activists explain the whole story and get suckers like you to push for NATO air cover, over these regime CW attacks and regime blockades.--Caustic Logic (talk) 08:51, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

Or under 978 mag (Israel)'s article After chemical attack, Damascus suburbs face starvation By Elizabeth Tsurkov, Oct. 3:

Closely follow images of fighters from M. al-Sham and you'll see they're not leaf-chomping musselmen ready to keel over. But these kids in the area they control are starving clear to death. Why? Normal humans, even in a real food embargo, give kids food precedence. Why not here? Look to the people right around them, not those far away. Some have opposition cameras, and not-too-bony fingers. They also might have hostages: Alawi, Christians, Kurds, loyalist Sunnis. I wonder how well those people are being fed?

Another not approved, referring to another commentator on the write track:

This is a call to action, by the way, to Ms. Tsurkov. Check the last poignant "moral lesson" portion of this story, in light of what Philos and I are saying, and consider if it's at all possible you walked into a sick trap here. Do we want to run the risk of supporting baby-starvers in a bid for power over yet more families? --Caustic Logic (talk) 08:51, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

Child Deaths In Context

Considering the basic logic laid out in the above section, how does all this child death compare to the rate of adults dying as they scrimp for the kids? It should be higher if the rebel story is true. a man with (special needs) died Sept. 26 in Moadamiyeh from "lack of medicine in East Gouta." No photo. No other men between 8-31 and 10-8 died from "other" or "un-allowed..." No surprise, emotion-inducing women fared worse. four women in the same span died from "Un-allowed to seek Medical help", all in Mouadamiyeh, Sept. 5, 13, 22, and 28, two mentioning food and medicine. One has a photo, two have videos. So it's not just the children. Partly, that's just what they're showing us. --Caustic Logic (talk) 15:59, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

Now for timeline context - clearly starvation happens over time and gets worse later, but still, looking back it almost seems this became the "cool" thing just before the end of August, with the first deaths of the two boys on the 31st. I imagine it take about a week (?) to get someone starved to death. The decision was apparently made just after the alleged gas attacks of August 21 put Ghouta towns on the world stage, where perhaps some wanted them to stay. Before that could take effect, the CDV shows all martyrs, all ages, genders, and rebel fighters combined, in all Damascus subrurbs, killed Aug 1-Aug. 28 by this deadly other/un-allowed: zero. That was one sudden tipping point. --Caustic Logic (talk) 15:59, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

Looking a little deeper and wider, Damascus suburbs, all martyrs, May 1 - present (October 20), killed by "un-allowed to seek medical help" and "other". A good-sized list. One died of a heart attack in prison, one was a guy shot by another guy, unidentified boy run over by security forces, and various Medical cases, and these run back at least to June, all over the place. One older woman is said to have died from lack of medicine and malnutrition, calcium deficiency in particular, on Sept. 22. --Caustic Logic (talk) 12:16, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

Most of these cases could really be anything, painted as some effect of the alleged life embargo. It's visible, undeniable starvation, malnutrition and marasmus we're looking for, in adults vs. children. No cases turn up really, except those outlined above - all children in Moadamiyeh and a bit in Douma. They started dying about as soon as possible if planned right after the gas attacks, and no earlier, and have continued to be starved for our outrage at a steady rate ever since, as adults and especially the rebel scum filming them continue eating every day. --Caustic Logic (talk) 12:16, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

The Food Embargo, in Myth and Reality

Ideally, this is where we'd do really detailed and thorough research to establish the truth as best we can. Any thoughts? --Caustic Logic (talk) 08:54, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

To start, some of the claims:

“No bread or flour or rice was allowed to enter Ghouta for three months. Only women were allowed into Damascus to buy any food at all, but when I brought bread the guard threw it on the ground, stamped on it and told me ‘now you can take it’. If I complained he would beat me too,” continued Rawda.
“The guards started using bags of bread instead of sandbags around their checkpoint, just to humiliate us. They said that one bag of bread cost one bullet. So we were afraid like this for three months before the massacre. We lived by picking whatever fruit or vegetables we could find in Ghouta.”
The siege of Ghouta dates back to in January 2013 when regime forces erected checkpoints at all roads leading to the area, positioned snipers nearby, blocked the entry of food and other goods. Activists and rebels who attempted to smuggle food into the area were shot at checkpoints or by snipers.
...
While the situation is dire in eastern Damascus, it is much worse in Moadamiyat al-Sham, a rebel-held town south of they Syrian capital. The regime laid siege to the town at the same time as eastern Ghouta, but according to Ahmad, “the siege [of Moadamiya] is tighter. Moadamiya is surrounded by Assad strongholds; it is next to the Mezzeh Military Airport and many brigades, including the 4th Armored Division [made up of Alawite soldiers and led by Bashar al-Assad's brother, Maher – E.T.] surround it.” Moadamiya residents relied on stored food until March when it ran out. Water is also scarce in the area because the regime has cut off the water supply and targeted tanks on residential buildings and public reservoirs.
The siege of Moadamiya resulted in the death of seven children in the past month, according to videos uploaded by the opposition, while another child starved to death in the besieged Hajeerat al-Balad, south of Damascus.

...

According to Ahmad, “there is no food at all and no supply of medicine” to the area, “FSA [Free Syrian Army] fighters eat just leaves, without bread.”

See above: Few fat people to be seen, but most of them are getting adequate carbs.

"Starving" Evacuees

Two months after the first starved child reports, the world got to see Moadamiyeh residents - usually described in the headlines as "starving" - as they evacuated ahead of a planned government offensive in late October. Jusdging by how the bad the kids were doing two months earlier, the adults should be about dead by now. The most malnourished won't be walking out, but should be finding a way to get out during this chance. Some sample images of normal people who will be more representative than the opposition;s earlier suggested viewing:

  • three women, five children, all looking pretty healthy.
  • three men, two women, a baby, none starving (plus Red Crescent guys)
  • Eight men, none chubby, some a bit leanner than they should be, none starving.
  • Children and various, healthy weight all around
  • This guy is pretty lean and can't walk, but he's also old. Not super old. He might be a bit short on food lately.
  • same guy pointing: hey, I'm on the news
  • A long line of men, hard to be sure but they don't look like teeth on a comb.
  • Again, who the hell was ever starving to death here? A few tear-jerking babies rebel cameramen knew just where to find. Other families evaded their grips and stayed off their videos, and walked out on their own two feet after managing the alleged food embargo with their own skills and values. These clearly did okay, food-wise. Thus, the rebel story is proven to be something like bullshit but more evil and twisted. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:28, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

Siege Lifted?

SOHR Facebook, December 26:

Reef Dimashq: An agreement was reached between leading figures from the city of Mou'adamiyat al-Sham and the regime, it consists of lifting the siege on Mou'adamiya and letting in food if the residents raised the Syrian flag [red flag] on several positions in the city. The flags was seen raised on the water tower. --Caustic Logic (talk) 23:40, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

World Reaction

The US has urged the Syrian government to allow immediate aid convoys to starving civilians cut off in rebel-held suburbs of Damascus.
Washington said the army's months-long siege left many people in desperate need of food, water and medicine.
It also cited "unprecedented reports" of children dying of malnutrition just a few kilometres from President Bashar al-Assad palace.

Islamic Cleric Reaction

In a video, the Muslim clerics said people could eat cats, dogs and donkeys to stave off hunger. The fatwa comes amid reports of starvation in the besieged, rebel-held Damascus suburb of Muadhamiya.
...
The clerics said it was a cry for help to the whole world, adding that if the situation continued to deteriorate, the living would have to eat the dead.

They seriously said that? Talk about a bald-faced, amped-up, passive-aggressive guilt-trip. Note that this was issued just after a large percentage of the most vulnerable were already evacuated from the place (see below).

BBC side-note:

The general director of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Christopher Stokes, has described it as an "absurd" situation when chemical weapons inspectors are able to drive freely through areas in desperate need while aid convoys are blocked.

Evacuating Moadamiyeh

"Hundreds of Syrian civilians, some carried on stretchers," were finally able to leave "Moadamiyeh, where local activists say at least six people have died of starvation" during a temporary cease-fire that actually held for both sides, during October 12 and 13, perhaps continuing. It wasn't clear who brokered the calm; "Neither Syrian officials nor activists close to rebels would discuss the cease-fire."

"It's (been) an area of military operations for months, so to see this halt of fire, and to see this exodus of people, means there's a high level cooperation — not regular cooperation," said Rami Abdul-Rahman, the director of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The report also says SANA reported that by the 12th 2,000 women and children had been evacuated to the nearby suburb of Qudsaya.

On the 14th, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (head of operations Khaled Erksoussi) confirmed "Around 1,500 people, most of them women and children, were evacuated from a point on the outskirts of Moadamiyet al-Sham and taken to shelters," ... He added that the evacuated civilians "were in a state of major fatigue and were very scared."

I haven't read into it yet, but I suspect rebels and their sponsors have complained loudly that it's not fair to take the civilians out of the siege area to somewhere safer, and let the government target only the militants in their ghost town, as they did to the best of their abilities in Quseir. The human shieldsinnocent civilians must be left in place in the crosshairs, all attacks ceased to preserve them, food, medicine, fighters and arms and all other humanitarian aid must be allowed in. That's the usual message from the humanitarian world community. --Caustic Logic (talk) 07:01, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

From the tone of reporting, I don't think there will be much complaint directly about this strangely unanimous cease-fire and evacuation. But as noted above, the U.S. is demanding that "aid" start to be allowed in Ghouta's suburbs in general, the people helped in situ, not after disentanglement from the sticky, rebel-controlled honeycombs they're living in like prone larvae. So essentially, yes, they prefer that people maintain human shield status so their vulnerability can still be used against Syria. --Caustic Logic (talk) 08:51, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

Mother Agnes takes credit

Sharmine Narwani has interviewed Mother Agnes-Mariam in late November and one question is about the evacuation of Moadamiyeh and accusations against her that she brokered the deal but then delivered people to the authorities. She describes quite detailed what happened. Ultra-brief summary: She heard about the starving children and started an initiative of her Musalaha organization which had already contacts on the ground. She got the Minister of Social Affairs on her side and managed to arrange a ceasefire. She says there has been food sent before but wasn't allowed in, due to the army and/or warlords. She went in and all in all over 6000 people were evacuated and this model has been used at ten other locations since then. If she ever saw starved children isn't clear from her report. Here is a photo reportage linked by Narwani, on the Musalaha website. Mother Agnes' civil name is Fadia Laham, I read there. --CE (talk) 04:14, 2 December 2013 (UTC)