The tragic death of Sahar Dofdaa reveals the quiet tragedy of Syria’s humanitarian crisis.
“Sunken eyes.” “Translucent skin.”
These are the words the Guardian used to describe 1-month-old Syrian girl Sahar Dofdaa, who died Sunday from starvation in one of the last parts of Syria held by armed groups that oppose the government.
The baby girl, who weighed two kilograms at the time of her death, reportedly was too weak to cry. Her mother, so undernourished she could not breastfeed the girl, and her father, too poor to pay for milk or supplements, could do nothing to save their only child, who died at a hospital in the eastern Ghouta city of Hamouria and was buried in the town of Kafr Batna, according to an Agence France Presse (AFP) report.
On Saturday, the AFP released a devastating series of eight photographs of Dofdaa, who had been taken to a hospital in the war-torn region. The photos bring light to the nutrition crisis afflicting Syrians in areas where armed rebels continue to face off against the Bashar Al-Assad regime in the country’s six-year-long civil war.
Mohamad Katoub, a doctor at the Syrian American Medical Society who spoke with the Guardian, said at least 68 people are suffering from severe malnutrition in eastern Ghouta, although that number is likely far higher on account of the challenge of gathering data in the region, the Guardian reports.
Once a major agricultural region, eastern Ghouta is now the last rebel-held area in the suburbs of Damascus, according to Al Jazeera. Since July, the Assad government has dropped nearly 1,000 surface-to-surface missiles on the region in an attempt to drive out opposition forces, and have continued to do so despite a humanitarian ceasefire signed by Russia and Syria that same month.
According to multiple reports, food and medical aid must be smuggled into the area, leading to exorbitant food prices and malnutrition as families can’t afford staple goods like sugar and rice.