The area here around DC has been hit by a tremendous snowstorm, and we are still digging ourselves out on the third day after the snow actually stopped falling. Without minimizing the suffering that this has caused many people (power outages, flooding along the East Coast, heart attacks from shoveling or just walking through the snow, traffic accidents, not to mention the elderly trapped without medication or the homeless), for most of the region it hasn't really been so bad. Neighbors pull together, the sun has been shining since the storm, kids play in the snow and build snowmen.
Now just imagine that the the storm did not last a few days but dragged on for months. There are no emergency services to speak of, except maybe a neighbor who used to be a nurse, making every minor injury life-threatening. There are food shortages to the point where people are starving to death. Children go to school hungry, and then they don't go at all. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do but forage for food. Aid workers arrive occasionally, but sometimes the food they bring has spoiled. Oh, and there are land mines buried in the snow. Imagine that, and you might start to get a sense of how bad things have gotten for towns trapped behind the crisscross of enemy lines in Syria. And it is winter there too, so that they can't even rely on what they used to: soup made from grass.
This piece from The New York Times describes just such desolation in the town of Madaya, only two hours from Beirut. Under siege for months, it might as well be in a different, barren world. The UN estimates that 400,000 people are trapped in this way, in various states of what we can only call Hell. That's about the combined population of Arlington and Alexandria VA. Just imagine that that's where this was taking place for a minute. What would you do to help your neighbors? Well, these people are our fellow human beings, our global neighbors, and they are suffering more than we can really imagine. I am posting this primarily to inform, and to keep us from forgetting this devastating conflict, seemingly so far away. But if you do feel motivated to offer support, here's a link to UNICEF, which is working hard to support the children trapped in these areas. "Support" is the wrong word -- they are desperately trying to keep these children alive. Here's the link: http://www.unicef.org/emergencies/syria/