(Vatican Radio) A senior Caritas official who’s just returned from the Syrian city of Aleppo says the devastation and humanitarian crisis there are “beyond human imagination” with many areas in the east looking as though they had been hit by a nuclear bomb. Patrick Nicholson is the head of Communications for Caritas Internationalis and has just returned from a visit to the war-ravaged city. In an interview with Susy Hodges he described the scenes, especially in eastern Aleppo, as “post-apocalyptic” because of the extent of the destruction and shared with her a shocking story of how he discovered 6 young children, including a baby, living on their own amidst the rubble of their bombed-out house.
Caritas and other aid agencies are continuing to sound the alarm about the desperate humanitarian crisis in the Syrian city of Aleppo that’s been one of the main battlegrounds in the nation’s civil war. Nearly 1.8 million people across the city do not have access to water supplies whilst in eastern Aleppo that was previously held by rebels until December, the overall situation is considerably worse with little food, no electricity or heating and whole areas reduced to rubble by the ferocity of the fighting.
Nicholson has witnessed the aftermath of many natural disasters like the 2006 Tsunami and a number of earthquakes but told us the scale of the damage and destruction he saw in Aleppo, especially the east of the city, was “the worst” he had ever seen. Describing the devastation there as “bleak” and “beyond human imagination” he said many of the city’s residents lack the basic essentials to survive like food, clean water, heating, proper shelter, access to medical care and desperately need humanitarian aid. Whilst carrying out house-to-house visits in eastern Aleppo with other Caritas staff, Nicholson recounted how they discovered a family of 6 young children ranging in age from 12 years old to only 9 months who were living on their own, without their parents, amidst the rubble of their bombed-out house.
Nicholson said it was “a miracle” the baby in particular had managed to survive in what he called this “horrific situation” for such a vulnerable group of youngsters. That same morning they came across another group of 3 children living on their own in similar circumstances and warn there is the risk that many young children are being forced to fend for themselves amidst the rubble of their damaged houses in eastern Aleppo. Despite this incredibly “bleak” situation, Nicholson said he was inspired by the dedication of so many people in Aleppo who are striving to provide help to those who have nothing and promote a climate of peace and reconciliation in this city that became a leading symbol of the bitterness and brutality of Syria’s civil war.