"Where is humanitarian aid we were promised?"
Syrian women are taking to the streets across Syria to protest conditions under starvation siege and show solidarity with the worst hit towns. From both besieged and not besieged towns, women gathered to hold up signs demanding humanitarian aid from the United Nations and ask why promised aid hasn’t reached them yet.
47 women in the town of Daraya signed an open letter calling for the siege on their town to be lifted and aid to be allowed in. They wrote:
“There is no food at all in Daraya. There are cases of malnutrition and we have resorted to cooking soups made purely of spices in order to stave off hunger. There are signatories to this letter that have not eaten for at least two days – some longer. There is no baby milk and no breast milk due to malnutrition. Even something as simple but as necessary as dishwashing liquid is unavailable. There are no cleaning supplies in order for us to ensure hygiene and keep diseases away.”
The women organised a demonstration with an SOS call to the world. They wanted to prove to the media and to the United Nations that Daraya was full of civilians, and not terrorists as the Syrian regime claims them to be in order to justify its siege.
Women from across Eastern Ghouta made their way to the city Douma, also in the Damascus province, and responded with their own demonstration in solidarity. Their signs said “Break Daraya Siege” and asked “Where is the humanitarian aid we were promised?”
Eastern Ghouta too is under siege. Women who were interviewed said they understood the pain of hunger.
“Why aren’t you trying to reach us?”
Women from the Women Now centre in Saraqeb, in the province of Idlib, also joined the demonstrations. They held up signs saying “You are in our hearts”.
In the town of Maarat Nauman, women had one clear message: “The Women Now Centre in Maarat Nauman calls on the United Nations to deliver aid and break the siege on Daraya #WeAreAllDaraya”.
Lubna Alkanawti, an activist with Women Now for Development, wrote last week:
“I last spoke to people in Daraya two days ago to see what their needs were. The men listed the usual items like protein-rich food, and medicine and vaccines.
But the needs of the women were very specific and detailed.
Their daily struggles are different. They don’t have sanitary pads. They use cloths instead but then there’s no clean water to sanitise the cloths afterwards. They need lice shampoo and soap. They need milk and milk bottles to be sent in for their babies. They can’t breastfeed because they’re malnourished.
I’m seven months pregnant now and I think about the women and kids in Daraya constantly.
The woman who runs our network’s centre in Daraya has had two miscarriages during the siege due to malnutrition and lack of medical care. One was at three months and the other one was at six months.
We can do something. I don’t want us a few weeks from now to be crying over images of people who have starved to death and say ‘I wish we had done something before’. The time is now.”
To join Syrian women in solidarity, call on world governments to airdrop food into Daraya and other besieged towns today:
Women Now for Development “SFD” (known previously as Soriyat For Development) is a Syrian non-profit organization dedicated to deepening and strengthening women’s role in Syrian and host communities by enhancing their political, social, economic and cultural participation.