14 December 2016

Aleppo and the Children

I read the news from Aleppo -- residential neighborhoods shelled, civilians shot, women committing suicide rather than be raped -- with a heavy, heavy heart.
New York Times
Because, you see, my mother was born in 1939 in what was then called East Prussia and is now Poland, and in 1944, she and her family fled their home ahead of Russian troops moving across the area.

I've heard the stories so many times. Lying in a horse-drawn wagon covered in blankets looking up at the stars, traveling only at night. Saved by a Polish housekeeper (my mother's family is German) who spoke to a guard and got the family through. Three children climbing into the window of the train headed west by their very pregnant mother, who then persuaded the guards to let her on the train as well: "My children are in there." Life as refugees.

Yes, they were Germans. They were on the wrong side. Had they been Jews, of course, it would have been so much the worse for them. But at the same time, my mother and her two, soon to be three, younger siblings, were children, children who saw too much, suffered too much, had too much responsibility.

And so when I hear the news from Aleppo, I think of the children. Children who, if they survive, will bear psychic scars for the rest of their lives.

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Is there anything we can do?

In the UK, The Independent recommends people call their ministers of parliament and ask them to start air drops of supplies, and put pressure on the Russian and Syrian governments to end hostilities, so I would think comparable calls to US senators and representatives would be worthwhile.

HuffPo has a list of organizations attempting to give aid in Syria that are taking donations, though at the moment many of them are hamstrung by the level of violence and chaos on the ground.

Of less immediate impact. scientific consensus is that drought in Syria, and the resulting pressure on food and other resources, is a contributing factor. Drought caused by climate change, that is. Educate people you know about the potentially dire impacts of climate change: in some reasons, considerably more drastic than 70-degree days in New York City in November or a little more rain or snow in the winter.