Monday 5 December 2016

Desperate mum stabbed baby girl to 'spare her Syria hell'

Unicef's fears for the mental health of families

Vladamir Isachenkov and Philip Issa

Published 09/10/2016 | 02:30

UNICEF representative in Syria Hanaa Singer is calling for an immediate end to the violence that has beset the northern city of Aleppo, saying UN agencies are on
UNICEF representative in Syria Hanaa Singer is calling for an immediate end to the violence that has beset the northern city of Aleppo, saying UN agencies are on "standby" to deliver needed assistance. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

A mother so desperate from the continuous displacement in Aleppo, Syria, stabbed her baby girl, thinking she would save her the misery of living on handouts and without a home, a Unicef representative in Syria has said.

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Describing the dramatic situation for thousands of families in government-controlled Aleppo, Unicef's Hanaa Singer said: "These [are] the horrors in western Aleppo. God knows what is happening, [in the case of] mental health or the psychological situation on the eastern [rebel-held] side."

Most displaced Syrians in Aleppo are forced to cram into makeshift shelters, mosques, parks and churches after recently fleeing clashes on the frontline between rebels and pro-government forces. Western Aleppo, controlled by the Syrian government, is separated from eastern rebel-held Aleppo by a few feet sometimes by a single plastic sheet or pockmarked building.

An estimated 275,000 people are living in the rebel-held part of Aleppo, with no international aid reaching the area since the first week of July. Besides the scarce assistance, it is also difficult to assess the needs with the ever-evolving violent situation, and lack of access for international aid groups, Ms Singer said.

"I think we all agree, and especially if you have been so close in the area there and seeing the dire situation in the west, hearing about the horrible situation in the east, all we need now is [for] the violence to stop," she said.

"Once the violence stops, the UN, we absolutely stand ready. We are ready. We are actually on standby."

Ms Singer added that UN plans are in place for government-held Aleppo to accommodate residents that may evacuate the besieged part of the city if a ceasefire takes effect.

According to medical charity Doctors Without Borders, hospitals in the eastern side of Syria's Aleppo have been attacked 23 times since July, damaging all eight facilities that have not yet been shuttered or destroyed.

Since the US-Russian ceasefire broke down on September 19, the situation in besieged Aleppo has immensely deteriorated under a relentless bombardment campaign.

Water stations and civil defence centres have also been hit, while over 320 people have been killed in nearly three weeks of violence.

"In eastern Aleppo, the situation is terribly dire," Ms Singer said. "Lots of schools and of hospitals have been hit... We have information that at least over 100 children have been killed.

"Doctors can't cope with all the cases, and some children in dire situations are left to die."

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