Besieged

Social media helps 9-year-old girl shot by sniper secure medical evacuation from Syrian city

Ghina Wadi (Amnesty International)

A 9-year-old girl who was shot by a sniper while walking to get medicine for her mother near the besieged town of Madaya in Syria was given permission to be evacuated for surgery by government authorities on Saturday, thanks in part to the efforts of a social media campaign. The girl, Ghina Wadi, had her thighbone shattered by a gunshot while walking with her sister to buy medicine for her mother — according to the medic who treated her, the girl’s bones were already crumbling after a year of malnutrition caused in part by the siege on the town. Government authorities initially denied Ghina permission to leave the town for the complex surgery she needed, but a call by Amnesty International, the United Nations, and more than 34,000 people who used the hashtag #SaveGhina culminated in the girl being handed to the Syrian Red Crescent at the checkpoint sealing off Madaya. Her surgery, it has been reported, was successful.

More than 86 people have died from preventable diseases in Madaya since the beginning of the siege in July 2015 — including 65 who died from malnutrition and starvation. The U.N. has said that starvation is being used as a “weapon of war” on the roughly 600,000 people living in besieged areas in Syria. “The vast majority of these innocent civilians are besieged by the regime using near-identical tactics: They surround a city, cut off humanitarian aid, and give civilians inside three choices — starve, be bombed, or surrender,” explained Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., at a meeting last week. “Of course it is not just the regime that besieges civilians,” she added. “Some 110,000 civilians are besieged by [ISIS] in Deir az Zour, and more than 20,000 people are besieged by opposition groups in Fuaa and Kafraya.”

Locals said that the sniper who shot the girl was a part of Hezbollah, the Lebanese terror group that now serves alongside the pro-Assad forces. “We now know what birds feels like during hunting season,” they told ABC news. Local authorities said that negotiations are still under way to secure medical evacuations for 13 other urgent cases in Madaya in return for the evacuation of 14 civilians in pro-regime areas, Fuaa and Kafraya.

Read the full story at ABC News.

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