Syrian 'genocide' needs urgent attention: Gift of the Givers

27 February 2018 - 08:41 By Matthew Savides
A young man cleans a damaged house in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 25, 2018.
A young man cleans a damaged house in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 25, 2018.
Image: REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

Syrians affected by "genocide" in the country's Ghouta region have been forced to eat cats to survive‚ South African aid organisation Gift of the Givers said this week.

In an appeal for urgent assistance‚ the organisation's founder Imtiaz Sooliman said that the residents of Ghouta had been "battling to survive" for at least three years.

Dr Ahmad Ghandour‚ the head of Gift of the Givers Ar Rahma Hospital in Darkoush‚ Syria‚ has been a go-between for Gift of the Givers and the Syrian population.

Sooliman said: "The unfolding genocide in Ghouta requires a rapid response to feed malnourished children‚ to 'ease' the hardship of a civilian population decimated by relentless bombing and to save life to the extent it is possible‚ given the total blockade of the area.

We have voice notes from [Ghandour] talking about the hardship of people inside Ghouta who have been battling to survive in the last three years. They ate plants and foliage‚ then in winter when there was no foliage they had to eat cats to survive. They have no income and no means to feed their families."

He said the only option was to send cash‚ as the Syrian government had blocked aid organisations from assisting and sending food or medical supplies to the area.

"Gift of the Givers has found a way to assist. The only option is to send cash‚ which is used to purchase food and medical items at very highly inflated prices. But there is no other option‚" said Sooliman.

"We have a very reliable arrangement with a key medical person inside Ghouta‚ who is Dr Ghandour. This professor has been instrumental in coordinating medical and humanitarian relief in Ghouta for some time now."

Sooliman said Ghandour would be responsible for spending the cash that is received. On Monday‚ 20‚000 euros (approximately R285‚000) was transferred‚ but this was a repayment to the Ar Rahma Hospital‚ which used its reserve funds to help in Ghouta. Another 100‚000 euros (approximately R1.42-million) will be sent next week.

Anyone wanting to contribute can deposit donations into the Gift of the Givers account.

Account holder: Gift of the Givers Bank: Standard Bank Branch: Pietermaritzburg Account Number: 052278611 Branch Code: 057525. Ref: Lillah or Zakaah Ghouta. Send deposit slip to