Russian humanitarian aid to Syria

The Russian Center for Reconciliation has carried out seven humanitarian missions in the past 24 hours to reach out to some 6,300 Syrians.

“In the past 24 hours, humanitarian assistance was delivered to 6,300 civilians. The overall weight of humanitarian cargo stood at 6.2 metric tons,” the statement reads.

Russian planes also airdropped 20.6 metric tons of food, provided by the UN, to the city of Deir ez-Zor. The city has been effectively under siege by Islamic State militants, leaving supplies to be delivered solely by air.

In total, Russia delivered more than 160 metric tons of humanitarian cargo to Syrians since the start of 2017.

[TASS]

The ruins that were once Syria

A heap of dust is all that remains of the house where Aylan Kurdi was born and raised in Kobane, Syria, before war sent his family fleeing and he drowned on the short sea crossing between Turkey and Greece. The image of the toddler’s lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach turned him into an instant symbol of the suffering of Syrians so desperate to reach Europe that they are prepared to risk their lives making the dangerous journey.

His flattened home, destroyed in an American airstrike in the landmark battle for control of the Syrian town of Kobane last year, has not been so widely seen. It is just one of thousands of buildings leveled, among hundreds of thousands more that have been obliterated in Syria during the four-year-old war.

As the conflict drags into a fifth year with no end in sight, little heed is being paid to the enormity of the havoc being wreaked on the country. Some 2.1 million homes, half the country’s hospitals and more than 7,000 schools have been destroyed, according to the United Nations.

The cost of the damage so far is estimated at a staggering $270 billion–and rebuilding could run to more than $300 billion. That’s more than 10 times the amount spent by the United States on reconstruction in Iraq, with few discernible results.

If or when the war ends, any government will find itself “ruling over a pile of rubble,” said Abdallah al-Dardari, a former Syrian government minister who heads the UN National Agenda for Syria. “I don’t know who will fund this.”

The numbers rise daily with each new airstrike and each new offensive launched, as Russian planes join Syrian and American ones in bombing the country and the various factions sustain their relentless attacks on one another with rockets, mortars and artillery.

“If you lived in Kobane, would you stay?” asked Aylan Kurdi’s father, Abdullah, as he recounted the events that spurred his family’s fateful departure.

[Washington Post]

Pitiful response to receiving Syrian refugees outside Middle East

Europe’s leaders “should hang their heads in shame” over their failure to take in more than a tiny proportion of refugees who have fled Syria’s desperate civil war, rights group Amnesty International said Friday.

European Union nations have offered to open their doors to a little more than 12,000 of the most vulnerable refugees from Syria, Amnesty International said, describing the number as “pitifully low.”

The figure represents 0.5% of the more than 2.3 million people who have fled the country since the conflict began in March 2011.

More than half  the 2.3 million refugees registered by the United Nations are children.

At least 4.25 million have been forced from their homes within Syria, Amnesty International said, making the total number displaced above 6.5 million — nearly a third of the country’s population.

In this dire situation, the countries neighboring Syria — Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt — have taken in 97% of the refugees, according to U.N. figures.

Within Europe, 10 EU member nations have promised to resettle 12,340 refugees. Of these, 10,000 places have been offered by Germany.

Outside Europe, Australia and Canada have promised to take in about 1,800 refugees between them.

In light of its report, Amnesty International has called for “an urgent and significant increase” in the number of resettlement places offered to refugees from Syria.

As winter closes in, the situation of refugees packed into temporary camps will only worsen. A huge storm that dropped snow and rain whipped by high winds onto Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon this week has added to the suffering. The Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon, where thousands of Syrian refugees are living in tents, has been badly affected.

[CNN]