This is the devastating truth about what war looks like.

Warning: this post contains content that may be distressing for some readers.

When she cries, hardly any sounds come out.

Sahar does not release the familiar, full screams of a newborn, but small, faint wails with no tears, as though she is struggling to breathe. She is 34 days old and weighs just 1.8 kilograms – less than a 2L bottle of milk, and the typical weight of a baby at 34 weeks gestation. Her skin is so tight and so stretched over her tiny body, she looks almost translucent.

She’s been taken to a clinic in Hamouria in rebel-held East Ghouta by her mother, who is so malnourished she cannot produce milk to feed her baby, and her father, who has no access to supplements. They are living under siege by forces loyal to the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assadin, in the suburb of Damascus, where merchants are hoarding food supplies.

All night, Sahar lays in a crib, wailing for food it is too late for. Less than a day later, her cries stop, and her life ends before it began.

Image via Getty.

Sahar's pained, tired body has been seen by millions since photos of her were released on Monday. The images serve as a harrowing mirror to the reality of her war-torn birthplace - a striking example of the broader suffering of millions of Syrians, who live in besieged areas, encircled by the Assad regime.

Her family are not alone in their tragedy.

Malnutrition is cruel in that it is the most vulnerable who pay the price. The mortality rate is particularly high in children under six months.

Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, deliberate starvation of civilians is a war crime, but in Syria's state of unrest, it has been used as a tactic by the government to encourage the people to turn against opposition fighters. The overwhelming shortage of supplies (the government has also limited international aid to certain areas) means even staples are too expensive, and products such as formula are almost non-existent.


There is nothing to eat and people, children, babies are dying.

Image via Getty.

And many of us would not even know if it weren't for the haunting photos of a 34 day old baby, whose cries say what so many of us can't: No war, no tensions, no political imperatives can ever justify the death of a newborn child, whose only crime is being born in a place with no capacity to love her.

The suffering of Syrian civilians is a story that doesn't seem to be able to be told in words.

Instead, their struggle is a thread upon which dozens of photos are pegged. The picture of a toddler in a red shirt and blue shorts, lying face down on a Turkish beach, after a journey to escape his war-torn Syrian town. The video of a boy, confused and alone, with blood on his face. When he raises his hand to touch it, he doesn't cry. Like any little boy, he wipes his wet hand on his seat.

And now, the images of a starving baby girl, who looks unlike any child we have ever seen before.

Their power is in the way they remind us of our humanity. And we can only hope that translates to action.

To help the 8.4 million children needing emergency aid in Syria you can donate to UNICEF by clicking here.

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