My Glimpse of Suffering in Syria

Read this account from WFP's Country Director in Syria, Jakob Kern

Access Disaster Preparedness Displacement Syria

On a recent Skype call with my son to do his homework — something I do with my children every day since they can’t be with me in Syria because of the violence — a mortar fired from Eastern Ghouta hit about 900 feet from my office.

My son asked, “What was that?” I leaned over to the window and showed him the smoke rising from where the shell hit. As I was showing him the smoke a second mortar hit the same place.

At the same time I also see many more bombs raining down on Eastern Ghouta just six miles away, and every time this happens it breaks my heart, especially for the children trapped there. Innocent children — many of whom have only known violence and war. As a parent, the suffering of these children who can’t go outside, can’t play, who don’t know the calm of safety, is agonizing.

The World Food Programme (WFP) helped some of these children through a recent aid convoy into Eastern Ghouta. But the threat that remains is significant. I want to give you a glimpse into the very real nightmare that they must live through every day.

These children haven’t felt sunlight on their faces in almost a month. The constant shelling makes it too dangerous for them to go outside. The basements they are forced to live in have little to no ventilation and almost no access to the food and medicine they need to survive. No place to play and live as children.

Young children in Eastern Ghouta told WFP staff they haven't seen sunlight in more than a month.

Leila is one of the children we met. Her home was destroyed by shelling — forcing her family to move into one of the over-crowded basement shelters in Douma, the biggest city in Eastern Ghouta.

My heart aches for these children who wish for basic things — things many of us take for granted, like the taste of our favorite foods. A young boy told us that he misses the taste of burgers. Another young one said that they just want to be able to feel full after eating.

This work to bring hope to the children and families of Syria has been the most fulfilling work of my career. I couldn’t be prouder of my staff who put their own safety at risk for the welfare of others. No single mortar outside my window can change the simple fact that we will do whatever it takes to let the Syrian people know they are not alone.

I dream of our next convoy, our next breakthrough to see these same children enjoying a meal alongside their relieved mother or father thanks to your support. Without you, these moments, these lifesaving food deliveries, wouldn’t be possible. We can’t let up now when the people of Eastern Ghouta and the 4 million civilians in the rest of Syria supported by WFP every month need us the most.

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