BEIRUT: Karim, a 3-month-old infant from the rebel-held Syrian town Ghouta, which has been besieged since 2013, will not be spending Christmas or New Year with family, warmth, and love.
With his eye and skull wounded as a result of artillery shells striking a market in Hammouria, in eastern Ghouta, the little baby who was only one month old, was left without a mother. Back then, that same attack killed a pregnant woman and her unborn child, and a third woman.
However, a solidarity campaign for the baby started on Thursday, as social media users in Eastern Ghouta and other places in the world were picturing themselves covering one eye, in tribute to the now three-month-old infant.
A week after his first injury, shrapnel tore through the roof of the baby’s house and he was picked up by rescue workers from underneath the rubble.
A medical report following the first attack was shared with The Associated Press. It mentioned that Karim, who was 40 days old at the time, suffered from loss of skull bone and severe tissue tearing that affected the eye socket, threatening to leave a permanent scar. The report, shared by a medic, said specialized care is needed but is not available in eastern Ghouta.
I #StandWithKarim, a 2 months-old baby who lost his eye, part of his head & his mom to bombing in #EasternGhouta, #Syria. This is a reminder of how #SyriaCrisis became deeper &dangerous.— Abdinor Dahir (@A__dahir) December 22, 2017
I wish #BabyKarim quick recovery & an end to this prolonged conflict.#SolidaritywithKarim pic.twitter.com/ZGKUPh0tN1
Moayed al-Halafi, a member of the Syrian Civil Defense, volunteer first-responders known as White Helmets said that "Karim is one of hundreds of cases in eastern Ghouta. If shelling against civilians doesn't stop, there is going to be a hundred or a thousand like Karim."
There are 137 children who require immediate evacuation in the Eastern Ghouta, the U.N. children's agency said last week, adding that five children have already died because of the lack of medical care.
Roughly one in eight children in the area is malnourished, and the government has refused to allow it to transfer nearly 500 people requiring medical evacuation to hospitals minutes away, according to the UN.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was alarmed by intensifying fighting in eastern Ghouta. Insurgents in Eastern Ghouta launch mortar and rocket attacks on the capital, while the government carries out waves of airstrikes. The Red Cross said the area is now grappling with "a frightening food shortage and a huge increase in food prices."
Abu Muhammed, Karim's father, described life under siege as a "nightmare" and said Karim needs constant care.
Speaking to Anadolu agency, he said that "life under siege is a nightmare; and it is very difficult to find a proper job under these circumstances."
He added that "Karim needs constant nursing. He lost one eye. He has a fractured skull. The deteriorating situation is obvious in Eastern Ghouta."
When we sit around the #UNSC & warn that inaction will mean more people are going to die. More schools bombed. More children scarred. This is what we mean.— Matthew Rycroft (@MatthewRycroft1) December 19, 2017
We must see an end to the bombardment & siege of #EasternGhouta.#SolidarityWithKarim pic.twitter.com/8Io85VlDdF
Social media campaigns in solidarity with children have been increasing in the past few years. The campaign in solidarity with Karim, however, reached UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday, when the UK's permanent representative Matthew Rycroft mentioned Karim during a session of the Security Council.
"We must stand in solidarity with Karim," he said, calling for an end to the bombardment of the Eastern Ghouta.
Solidarity can help spread Karim's story through social media, but is that enough?
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