The haunting photo of 5-year-old Syrian boy Omran Danqeesh, sitting bloody and dazed in an ambulance chair, delivered the same message to the world as the heartbreaking picture of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, lying dead on a beach in Turkey: They offered a glimpse into the horrifying reality of Syrian war.
The images, shared hundreds of thousands of time across the globe, proved that Syrian children only have two choices: either stay and die, or flee and die. No matter which option they choose, their future is already doomed.
Another sad example of this distressing phenomenon is 11-year-old Yaman Ezzedine, who is dying from a disease that doctors can treat if he leaves Madaya, which he is unable to do due to the war.
Yaman is suffering from meningitis and is one of the many children trapped in the besieged town facing life-threatening conditions that require specialist treatment, which is currently unavailable at Madaya’s makeshift hospital.
His family has been appealing to the government and aid organizations, begging them to evacuate him. But so far, their pleas have been met with utter silence.
“[Yaman] was diagnosed with meningitis over a month ago with what began as a fever and a severe headache,” said a local doctor, Mohamed Darwich. He explained the doctors in the area are unable to treat Yaman — all they can do is provide him with basic antibiotics that bring down his fever temporarily.
“We don’t know what else to do,” he added. “We don’t know what else we can do.”
Yaman is one of at least 13 individuals in dire need of medical treatment, according to local medical sources. His uncle Yousif Jabir, who lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania, is trying to lobby local organizations to help his nephew but so far, he has been unable to help the family.
“He is an extremely active boy. He is loved. All his friends love him and want him to get better,” said his mother, Khawalah Jabir, adding that Yaman loves to swim and play basketball and soccer. “He was such a talented and energetic boy, but now he can barely move because of the pain. I stopped seeing the world whenever he cries.”
The news of a 9-year-old girl being evacuated out of Madaya to a hospital in Damascus after a sniper shot her gives the trapped family some semblance of hope. They are optimistic that similar aid will arrive for Yaman.
However, Yaman’s condition continues to worsen.
“It is well established that malnourished children under 5 years old are more vulnerable to infectious diseases and experience higher mortality rates,” Elise Baker, research coordinator for Physicians For Human Rights, told The World Post. “These conditions should have never developed in Madaya, as there are well-equipped and well-staffed hospitals able to provide needed care just an hour’s drive away in Damascus.”
Madaya made international headlines after a report found that up to 40,000 civilians were slowly starving to death while at least 300 children were suffering from malnutrition in the rebel-held region.
The images of emaciated residents and children forced human aid organizations to pressure the Syrian government into allowing food and medicine through its borders. The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund says the children in the town now face life-threatening conditions — including renal failure, rheumatic fever, shrapnel wounds and liver and heart disease.