Washington, DC- Thousands of people from the besieged area of Aleppo were evacuated today, the majority of the people were children, women and families. Among the children was Bana Alabed the seven-year-old girl, who caught the attention and hearts of western media, with her Tweets that were retweeted hundreds of thousands of times, providing updates about her situation and the living conditions in the Besieged Eastern Aleppo.
Today, young Bana along with many other children are safe, after they suffered so much. Bana was welcomed and protected by UOSSM’s Evacuation Team and its Child Protection Services, until she, and her family, were transported to a safe, undisclosed location.
UOSSM Safety and Security Director Dr. Ahmad Al-Dbis, who has been, along with other UOSSM staff and volunteers, at the evacuation cross point, since last Thursday, spoke with many other children, that gave heartbreaking testimony of their ordeal. Kauthar, a second grader, was another child sitting on a chair alone, with a wound on her chin, a broken hand, and wounded chest. She lost her father to the brutal war along with her grandmother and aunt.
Approximately 6000-6500 were evacuated today in a total of 109 buses, among the people were approximately 75-100 wounded and sick patients, many should have been transported in ambulances instead of the crowded buses, but not one ambulance came in today. Many of the evacuees have been experiencing terrible conditions, waiting at the evacuation point for over 16 hours, in the extreme cold, no food, water, or blankets were given to them, and there were no facilities for restroom use.
Over 14 NGOs and Emergency Ambulance Systems have been involved in the evacuation of besieged Eastern Aleppo. UOSSM was among those NGOs, which deployed 26 ambulances, and over 195 UOSSM staff and volunteers in the evacuation process, and UOSSM Safety and Security Director, along with other assistants, was assigned as the focal point for the coordination of evacuation to ensure proper triage of patients to designated hospitals and evacuation of people to safety sites.
Dr. Khaula Sawah, CEO of UOSSM USA said, “We are thankful that so many people were evacuated from the besieged area of Aleppo, especially the children, and brought to safety. But at the same time, it is bittersweet, thousands of families endured the pains of war to stay in their own homes; unfortunately, circumstances were beyond their control and they had to leave, now they are displaced. “
Dr. Sawah added, “It is so painful to look into the eyes of the children, to see their pain, to see their fear. Words cannot describe the feelings of failure that we feel towards these children and their families, we tried our best but it wasn’t enough. However, we will continue, to the best of our capacity, to provide medical and mental healthcare, and child protection services, to not only to help heal the physical wounds, but also the emotional trauma that many children and families suffered, with wounds that run so deep. As fellow human beings, every one of us has a responsibility towards these people, to help ease the suffering of the children and their families. We call upon everyone to reach into their hearts and do what they can to help.”