SYRIA

“We’re hungry, we’re cold and we’re forced to scavenge for food”, says Homs survivor

 With food and medicine running low, residents in Syria’s flashpoint city of Homs are struggling to stay alive amid a hailstorm of rockets, mortar and sniper’s fire. As the death toll mounts, our Observers on the ground tell us how they’ve managed to survive thus far.

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With food and medicine running low, residents in Syria’s flashpoint city of Homs are struggling to stay alive amid a hailstorm of rockets, mortar and sniper’s fire. As the death toll mounts, our Observers on the ground tell us how they’ve managed to survive thus far.

 

According to a report published on Thursday by the non-profit organisation, Human Rights Watch, at least 300 people have been killed in Homs over the past week. Baba Amr, a neighbourhood in the southwest of the city, has seen some of the most intense violence since Syrian forces began shelling over the weekend.

 

Entire families have been crushed beneath the rubble of their bombed-out homes. With stores and supplies diminishing rapidly, Homs’ residents have been forced to fend for themselves however they can.

 

Smoke billows up from Homs’ Baba Amr neighbourhood after it is bombarded on February 9. A voice off camera says, “This is genocide. Another bomb just dropped – it’s still hot”. Video posted on YouTube by jolnar1988.

 

WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS DISTURBING IMAGES

 

Bodies buried under rubble in Baba Amr on February 9. Video posted on YouTube by live19820.

“Homs is almost completely isolated from the rest of Syria and the world”

Abou Rami (not his real name), 25, lives in Homs’ Khalidiya neighbourhood.

 

We can’t go out into the street because of snipers. So we have to knock down the walls in between buildings or dig tunnels to move between homes without going outside. We’re mainly looking for bread and medicine. We’re hungry, we’re cold and we’re forced to scavenge for food scraps in rubbish bins. Most of the stores have been destroyed.

 

For now, in Baba Amr, we bury our martyrs in our backyards and gardens [another Observer told us of bodies being buried in public parks]. If the bombings continue like this for the next few days, we’re going to have to start digging mass graves.

 

It’s impossible to leave the neighbourhood – we are surrounded by troops. There is no electricity, no Internet, no cell phones. To communicate with people on the outside, I have to go to a friends’ house who has a generator and a satellite dish. Homs is almost entirely cut off from Syria and the rest of the world".

 

 

A “Rafah tunnel” to avoid snipers

 

An activist in Homs’ neighbourhood of Karm Al Zeitoun explains that residents have built a sort of passageway he dubs “the Rafah tunnel”.

 

Video posted on YouTube by  soshoms42011.

 

 

“You can call this our Rafah tunnel. It’s to avoid being hit by snipers shooting in this direction. There is a sniper positioned at the end of the street. Yesterday a woman became a martyr after she was shot as she carried bread. Her name was Assia. We filmed her for the world to see.

 

Residents erected this structure so they can cross over to the other side. Look how they cross… it’s like Palestine or worse here because those doing the shooting and those being shot at are of the same people. This path leads from Karm Al Zeitoun to the neighbourhood of Adawiya. Those who are forced to go to Adawiya for supplies or to smuggle family out face thousands of obstacles along the way.

 

This is a war waged by the regime against the people. Look at the bullet holes from sniper shots – this is Bashar’s doing. Look at the electric poles. Even with what we’re building crossing isn’t safe. They shoot every time someone tries to cross the street, sometimes they even use rockets”.

“We are sharing what little bread remains in the neighbourhood”

Rami H. (not his real name) lives in the neighbourhood of Kahlidiya.

 

There are young people who ventured to the edge of the neighbourhood to try to find a way out, they injured two of them. It’s impossible to move freely, there are armed patrols everywhere. It’s impossible to transfer the injured to the hospitals. And there is no more basic medicine left, just a few painkillers. Almost no bread either, so we’re sharing what little remains in the neighbourhood. But we’re reaching the end of it”.

Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Maha Ben Abdelahim.