Residents of West Ghouta town hold out against hunger


September 8, 2014

West Ghouta

FOOD SHORTAGE: A man pushes a cart filled with what appears to be jugs of water in Yelda, a town in the Damascus suburbs of West Ghouta, reportedly telling the photographer, “don’t take a picture of my face…everyone sees us but no one takes mercy on us except God.”

“The regime controls how much, and what types of food enter Yelda,” Mohamad al-Halwani, a Yelda resident and photographer told Syria direct Monday, adding that “water is [still] cut off and only reaches a few residential areas.”

The Syrian government imposed a siege around rebel-held Yelda from March 2012 until February 2014 and prevented the entry of food into the village, leading to widespread hunger—as documented by videos and photos uploaded to social media websites by local activists during the famine.

Yelda residents have continued to struggle through harsh living conditions even after a truce was signed between rebel fighters and the regime February 17, which stipulated the unimpeded entry of food, and free travel in and out of the village.

Only 40 percent of residents have the money to purchase what limited quantities of food do enter the town, according to an announcement published Sunday by the Yelda Local Coordination Committee.

Further, electricity is turned on for two hours a day, transportation and fuel are more than twice as expensive than in surrounding areas and residents are still prevented from going to work outside the village by regime-imposed checkpoints.

The people of Yelda have taken new measures to combat hunger, planting small gardens on their roofs and in alleyways.

Under a picture of plants growing next to satellite dishes, which appeared Sunday on the Yelda Local Coordination Committee’s Facebook page, a caption pays tribute to Yelda’s resilience.

“Hunger did not conquer us, we tamed it bit by bit, over time—and so that they don’t betray us again, and fight us again we invented solutions and alternatives.”

-September 8, 2014

– Photo courtesy of @lensdimashqi

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