Nairobi: Two-month-old Isra Khattab has liver blockage and breathing problems but is unable to receive critical life-saving medical treatment because her town in the Houla area of northern Homs has been under siege by the Syrian regime since 2012.
Speaking to Gulf News, her father pleaded for the world to take action. “If we don’t get treatment soon, she will not survive,” Ahmad said.
Doctors in Houla are unable to treat her complicated condition due to a severe shortage of doctors and medicines.
Houla’s 70,000 residents have been surviving on scraps of humanitarian aid that managed to sneak in over the past few months.
The three villages that make up Houla are part of a pocket of rebel-controlled territories in northern Homs and neighbouring southern Hama province, blockaded by regime forces and allied militias since early 2012. FSA brigades, Ahrar Al Sham and Jaish Al Islam currently control Houla.
A regime offensive in January cut off vital smuggling routes that brought food to the area from Hama, while also pushing thousands of south Hama residents into northern Homs.
Before the war, Ahmad worked in the market as a vendor, but now it is too dangerous to work.
“I don’t work, there is nothing to do here. It’s very dangerous to go out because you don’t know if you will get hit by a bomb,” Isra’s mother, Khadija, said.
Ahmad sold his house to have money to sustain the family. He and his family now live at his brother’s house.
Cases like Isra’s are not uncommon in war-torn Syria as approximately 19 other towns across the country have been besieged, either by government forces or rebels.
Earlier this year, the world was briefly shocked when pictures of starving children in the town of Madaya emerged.
For a few weeks, the plight of the town was covered by international media as reports emerged that people had resorted to eating rats, cats and grass to survive.
However, the attention was short-lived and the victims quickly forgotten as the five-year civil war dragged on.
With the focus of the war shifting to the northern city of Aleppo, alarm bells are sounding once again.
Two million people in the city are living in fear of besiegement, including up to 275,000 people trapped in rebel-held east Aleppo, the UN warned last month.
“When used to intentionally deprive people of food and other items essential to their survival, siege tactics constitute a war crime,” the UN statement said. More than 290,000 people have been killed since Syria’s conflict erupted in March 2011.
Meanwhile, in Houla, Isra will still be battling for her life and the desperate plea of her father will likely be swallowed up in Syria’s never-ending nightmare.