Among the thousands of innocent civilians who have been caught up in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s ferocious siege of Eastern Ghouta are two young girls, whose desperate tweets have caught the attention of people worldwide.
Alaa, 8, and her older sister, Noor, 11, have been posting urgent pleas for help via social media from their bomb-battered apartment building. The two sisters have stopped going to school, because going out is too dangerous amid the current armed conflict between government forces and the largest rebel group in Syria. In their young lives, they have already experienced so much trauma and loss, including the deaths of their young friends and neighbor.
Following a rocket attack, which shattered windows and sent glass fragments flying through their home, young Alaa received a slash next to her eye.
“Why won’t the bombing stop?” asks Alaa on Twitter.
“Help us!” added Noor in a desperate plea.
“How many children have to die? Please, please, save the children of Ghouta before it is too late,” pleaded the girls’ mother, Shamza Khatib. “The world is just watching, not doing anything, no action. I cannot understand.”
It was Khatib’s decision to create her daughters’ Twitter account, “because the world was ignoring what was happening in Ghouta,” she stated.
More than 9,000 netizens re-tweeted the girls’ Feb. 19 video tweet, titled—“To everyone who can hear me we are in danger please help us before it’s too late.” In the emotional 28-second clip, Noor is seen holding her younger sister and claims “the children are in danger of being mortared.”
Whilst the Russian-Iran backed offensive aims to reclaim all Syrian territory from Islamic insurgents, who’re now primarily taking refuge in their last remaining stronghold of Eastern Ghouta, more than 1,100 civilians have been killed and 4,000 have been injured since mid-February, according to BBC.
A recent Syrian state television report show plumes of dark smoke rising behind houses in the Ghouta area, and sounds of gunfire can be heard in the background.
The United Nations estimates 400,000 people are trapped in the rebel-held area, and Ghouta has been described as “hell on earth” by UNICEF. Whilst 60 percent of the rebel stronghold has been reclaimed, Assad’s merciless airstrikes and government advances have taken a heavy toll on everyday Syrians, which could lead to intervention from the United States.
“When the international community consistently fails to act, there are times when states are compelled to take their own action,” asserted America’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who added that Washington “remains prepared to act if we must.”
The United States has requested the UN Security Council to demand an immediate ceasefire in Syria.
Following the Syrian regime’s deadly chemical weapons attack last year, which was in defiance of international law, the United States responded by bombing a Syrian air base.
Sadly, whilst Noor and Alaa appeal to the world for help, at the same time there are children in many other parts of the world that are also caught up in armed conflict and even genocide.
Under the Chinese Communist Party’s rule, China has became a country notorious for human rights abuses involving children.
According to a March 2005 report by the Global Mission to Rescue Persecuted Falun Gong Practitioners: “many children [of Falun Gong practitioners] have been directly targeted and tortured to death or thrown into prisons and labor camps. Hundreds of thousands of children have been forced to slander Falun Gong or, upon refusal, [have been] expelled from school.”
Many people around the world may probably wonder how they can assist children like Noor and Alaa, and awareness is perhaps one of the most common ways, being as simple as re-tweeting their tweets. There are other ways, such as launching a campaign, just like how a group of teenagers went on a 3,000-mile bike journey called Ride2Freedom to raise awareness about the persecution of Falun Gong, and to rescue orphans belonging to practitioners who were killed in the Chinese state-sanctioned genocide.