Starvation as a Method of Warfare in Hama Suburbs
Enab Baladi Issue # 91– Sun, Nov. 17, 2013
As the clashes and battles at fighting fronts intensify, the suffering of besieged civilians increases to being unable to secure the basic supplies, especially bread, the main component of the typical Syrian meal.
The main problem lies in the difficulty of acquiring flour, the primary ingredient. One Kilogram of flour is sold for 3800 Syrian Pounds (25$), if ever available. Regime forces banned bringing in flour in all towns in “liberated” Hama Suburbs. Local councils and Coordination Committees took responsibility of buying it from dealers who import it from Turkey or get through regime-controlled areas.
Bakeries in northern suburbs of Hama were targeted with aerial attacks; residents thus had to use traditional methods of baking bread in their houses. Some managed to get smuggled bread from the regime-controlled city of Hama for 175 Syrian Pounds (1.2 $) per package, more than 10 folds its regular price.
Jacob Abdo, member of Al Latamneh Coordination Committee, said in statement to Enab Baladi that the city of AL Latamneh (town in Hama Suburbs) has been deprived of flour for seven months, in addition to the total absence of power and fuel, let alone the constant shelling which prevents people from gathering at the bakery when ingredients are available.
Mr. Abdo pointed out that residents of Al Latamneh exceed 27000, in addition to over 10000 displaced civilians from other areas in northern and western suburbs due to ongoing armed conflict. 10 percent of these residents depend on home-made bread, while the rest depend on bread offered by relief organizations or buy it from the city of Hama.
Amir Al Hamwi, a member of Kaferzeta Coordination Committee, talked about the current status of the main bakery which was targeted with shells by regime forces; many people were injured as a result, while slight damage was inflicted. The bakery works once every 48 hours and produces one loaf for each civilian a day. Mr. Al Hamwi added “ingredients to make bread are provided by Ahrar Al Sham movement and other relief organizations, whereas Assad government stopped supplying the city with flour since last September”.
In eastern suburbs of Hama the situation is even worse; the government cut all rebel-held areas off of all flour and food supplies. Air strikes targeted several bakeries as well.
The senior supervisor of eastern suburbs’ coordination committees Abou Abdu says “All bakeries in rebel-held areas are out of action, some were shelled, and others were destroyed in an arson attack by regime forces, in addition to the total absence of ingredients”.
Meanwhile, Assad government is still supplying other towns, mostly pro-regime towns, with flour and fuel.
Local Councils in opposition controlled areas supply civilians with flour provided by several support groups and families bake bread manually at home. Sham, Islamic organization, occasionally provides limited amounts of bread for cheap prices as well.
Regime forces resorted to starvation as a method of warfare in Hama Suburbs to occupy people with securing food and to divert them from the major aim of the Revolution.