Aleppo: “The international community has turned its back on us”

No camera or pen can describe what we’re experiencing here, in our home of Aleppo.

Aleppo has become an abandoned city, reduced to rubble. Buildings are demolished and shattered. Roads are bombed out. People’ faces are lifeless.

On the streets, you only hear ambulances and civil defense cars rushing from one neighborhood to another, trying to get to people stuck under the rubble following an attack.

Aleppo, a city that once used to be vibrant with its rich history and culture, has become a ghost city. What we are witnessing is the complete demolition of the basic necessities of life.

Aleppo, a city that once used to be vibrant with its rich history and culture, has become a ghost city. What we are witnessing is the complete demolition of the basic necessities of life.

And Aleppo has been forgotten. Aleppo has been abandoned.

The international community has turned its back on Aleppo. The international community can stop the shelling and bombing, but they have chosen to stand by while we are being killed.

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Syria Aleppo SAMS3Expand / Contract

(Courtesy Syrian American Medical Society [SAMS])

Through its inaction in Syria, the U.N. has become an accomplice to what’s happening here.

We are about 350,000 people left here. No one can leave because of the intensity of the assault against us.

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(Courtesy of Syrian American Medical Society [SAMS])

Shelling and bombing over the eastern part of Aleppo never stops: indiscriminate and systematic targeting of civilians, civilian infrastructure, hospitals, and civil defense centers and personnel.

In Aleppo, daytimes are like nightimes. We live in darkness. There’s no electricity. We are running out fuel.

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Syria Aleppo SAMS5Expand / Contract

(Courtesy Syrian American Medical Society [SAMS]))

No drinking water is left in the city after the two major water stations were struck. People are drinking polluted water. We’ve received cases of water-related contaminants and diseases.

Children are suffering from acute malnutrition. There is a severe shortage of baby milk. The condition of our children is deteriorating day by day.

Hospitals are overwhelmed. There’s a severe shortage of specialized doctors. There’s only one neurosurgeon, two general surgeons, and three orthopedic surgeons. Not enough hands and resources to save all these wounded people streaming into the hospitals.

Only 30 doctors of any kind remain to care for the population, which includes 85,000 children.

Medical personnel are working tirelessly and non-stop. We work 24/7 because of the intensity of attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including residential neighborhoods and markets.

The past few days have been the longest and toughest we have ever seen. In one day, we received 180 cases, including 72 children and 36 women. Many of them were critically injured.

We had people dying in the emergency rooms. The floors are overflowing with injured. The floors are covered with blood.

Children died before our eyes because oxygen machines stopped working.

We only have 4 remaining intensive care unit beds.

We face the unbearable task of choosing who to save because of the limited resources we have.

We intubate patients on the bloody floors. On the floors, doctors perform major surgeries.

We have run out of anesthetics.

The only neurosurgeon left in Aleppo performed a brain surgery on a patient to stop the bleeding and the pressure. He opened the man’s skull on the floor without anesthetics.

It was either treating him on the floor with no anesthetics or letting him die.

We face a severe shortage of medical supplies and equipment. The need is greater than ever. We have run out of antibiotics, painkillers, mannitol—used to lower cranial pressure after head trauma—and medications for high blood pressure and diabetes.

There is also an urgent need for ventilators. Only 6 are left in Aleppo.

We had to use manual ventilations on children. We have lost patients, including children because of a lack of ventilators.

Our oxygen machines stopped working because we ran out of fuel. We have only one oxygen machine in the whole community.

This is Aleppo.

We have no choice but to live in these grim and hopeless conditions, while we see the international community standing by watching, seemingly unable or unwilling to stop this massacre.

The international community has abandoned us. The international community has turned its back on us.

The entire world has witnessed the use of barrel bombs, artillery shelling, airstrikes, and bunker busters on us, but nothing has been done.

The world is very well aware of what’s happening in Aleppo. We know. At night, we see their satellites like lighting bulbs in the sky.

What else can we say? Who will listen?

The people of Aleppo and the few remaining medical personnel are pleading with the international community to protect them.

Let children be children. Let medical workers do their job and care for the injured.

But we are left alone.

Despite all of this, we will carry on.

We will keep standing up.

We have not given in.

Mohamed Abu Rajab is a radiologist and hospital administrator at a hospital in eastern Aleppo City that is supported by the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS). The hospital was hit by bombs more than five times in one week. It is now completely destroyed and out of service.

Dr. Ahmad Tarakji, is President of SAMS, a non-profit, non-political, professional organization representing thousands of medical professionals in the U.S. that provides medical relief to Syrians inside Syria and in neighboring countries. Dr. Tarakji was born and raised in Aleppo.

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