An elderly Pakistani couple, begging to be rescued from the besieged Syrian province of Eastern Ghouta, has been repeatedly ignored by the Pakistani embassy just a few miles away, according to Pakistan Today.
Muhammed Fadel Akram, 72, and his 62-year-old wife, Sugran Bibi, are among the 400,000 people trapped in the opposition-held region just east of Damascus. Living in Syria since 1973, Akram has been trying to leave the country since the outbreak of the civil war, in which one his children was killed. He now faces starvation amid continual bombardment by regime forces.
“What story should I tell you people?” Akram told journalists. “I have nothing to eat. I have no clean water to drink. My wife is sick; she needs medicine, yet there is nowhere we can get any.”
Despite the Pakistani embassy being just miles away, Akram said his repeated appeals for the Pakistani government’s intervention in his case have been ignored.
Living in extreme poverty, Akram and his wife survive by raising livestock; four animals of their herd remain. They occupy the same ruined room that their cattle sleep in.
The Embassy of Pakistan in Syria, the Foreign Office and the Middle East Office in Pakistan have not responded to requests for comment from journalists.
Whilst the chances are slim, Akram and his wife are hoping that they can find a way to escape Ghouta and make their own way back to Pakistan.
“I don’t want to beg, but if anyone can get us enough money for passage to Damascus, then we can make it back home. That is all that we ask, just to come back home and live the rest of our lives away from these bombs,” Akram pleads.
Despite Eastern Ghouta being one of the four de-escalation zones established in May by Russia, Iran and Turkey, the besieged province is subject to regular airstrikes from the Syrian regime; the UK-based Syrian Observatory has recorded the deaths of more than 200 civilians, including many children, in the past month.
This week, several humanitarian agencies issued statements on the deterioration of suburbs outside Damascus. The UN again warned that the situation in Eastern Ghouta had reached a “critical point” due to the lack of emergency aid reaching civilians.
“495 people were on the priority lists for medical evacuations. That number is going down. Not because we are evacuating people, but because they are dying,” Jan Egeland, UN humanitarian advisor on Syria said yesterday.
The province is also suffering from a tightening of the blockade imposed since 2013, after an offensive by the Syrian regime earlier this year cut underground smuggling routes that formerly allowed civilians access to food, fuel and medicine.
Last month, Amnesty International released a report, stating that the Syrian government’s strategy of “surrender or starve” towards civilian populations in opposition controlled areas amounts to a crime against humanity.