Still image from YouTube user Darya Revolution
By Kibret Yebetit and Madeleine Bair
On October 13, 2013 the Syrian government and rebels called a ceasefire in Moadamiyeh, a suburb seven miles south of Damascus, allowing residents to evacuate. This video documents the exodus of men, women, and children, carrying their belongings in suitcases and plastic bags as they head down the main road out of the town.
Human Rights Issue
In a region wrought with conflict, it is hard to believe any one place could be called the “city of death,” but Moadamiyeh, has become just that. As one of the first areas to rise up against Assad’s regime, Moadamiyeh is among the government’s most targeted areas in Syria. Along with several other Damascus suburbs, it was the site of the infamous August 21st chemical weapons attack that killed an estimated 4,000 people. But just as harmful as attacks, citizens of Moadamiyeh have suffered a 10-month blockade on the town, consisting of government checkpoints and snipers lining the highway, creating an impermeable barrier keeping residents in, and aid, food, and medical supplies out.
According to a report by the Syrian International Media Alliance (SIMA), at least 3,000 residents suffer from malnutrition, the majority of them children. This disturbing video compiles footage from local hospitals showing children dying of starvation.
Recently however, government forces and rebels arranged ceasefires to allow civilians to evacuate. One woman who left Moadamiyeh told the BBC, “We didn’t see a piece of bread for nine months. We were eating leaves and grass.” Thousands of residents have fled the town to find refuge elsewhere, though many have also reported violence during their exodus, as the ceasefire breaks down.
Behind the Camera
Despite the difficulty and dangers in covering the Syrian civil war, a steady stream of videos documents the conflict in Moadamiyeh. The uploader of the above video, Darya Revolution, has been uploading videos on YouTube since February 2013. While it features videos from other Damascus suburbs, its videos from Moadamiyeh document evacuations and the aftermath of attacks on the town. The Human Rights Channel’s Moadamiyeh playlist compiles videos from Darya Revolution and other community media outlets and aggregators uploading footage of the humanitarian crisis that the region faces.
Kibret Yebetit is an intern with the Human Rights Channel at WITNESS and an undergrad at Barnard College concentrating in Political Science and Human Rights.