Only days ago the long discussed ceasefire agreement in Syria began to unravel and special envoys packed with aid were once again blocked by new outbursts of war. In particular, a UN aid convoy fell to an air strike on 19th September. While it has not been confirmed who was responsible, the attack killed 12 people and destroyed 18 trucks full of food headed for a rebel-held area close to Aleppo.
Aleppo is one of the main towns in a truly a dire situation. Hospitals are overwhelmed and few medical staff remain to treat the civilians suffering from malnutrition and air strikes. Controversially, many civilians have attended hospitals in need of treatment for burning eyes, shortness of breath, skin blisters and vomiting. The symptoms are consistent with chemical weapons, supposedly banned by the international treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention. Since 2013, the Syrian government has been accused of using noxious gases in the form of sarin, mustard and chlorine.
The use of such weapons are against international laws on armed conflict for the indiscriminate destruction they cause. Going against one of the main principles of war- that of proportionality- chlorine gas and other chemical weapons cause widespread destruction, indiscriminately killing and wounding civilians rather than military targets. For many, in a fragile state, already starving in besieged towns, the added suffering proves deadly.
Only 2 days ago, for the first time in 5 months, food has finally reached some of the other Syrian towns under siege, however the UN World Food Programme still has significant need to be concerned for the people of Aleppo, with women and children most at risk.
With renewed talks of a ceasefire, there is hope that more aid can at least reach those caught in the crossfire.