The image of a two-month-old Syrian baby who reportedly lost an eye to the Assad regime’s bombardment is being shared around the world as a symbol of the suffering of a besieged rebel-held suburb of Damascus.
Karim was one month old when he and his mother were caught up in a government attack on a market in east Ghouta last month, his father said.
The strike killed his mother and left Karim blind in his left eye and with a partially crushed skull. But the infant survived and his photograph is now being shared on social media networks globally.
Thousands of users posted pictures of themselves with their left eyes covered under the hashtags #SolidarityWithKarim and #BabyKarim.
East Ghouta is one of the last rebel-held areas around Damascus and has been under siege by Assad’s forces since 2013. Around 400,000 civilians are trapped inside, according to the UN, and food and supplies of food and medicine are dwindling.
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“Life under siege is a nightmare. It is very difficult to find a proper job under these circumstances,” Karim’s father, Abu Muhammed, told the Anadolu Agency.
He said Karim and his siblings had only a little bread to eat and he worried about Karim’s recovery with so little food available.
Residents live with little electricity, meager food supplies, and the constant threat of bombardment by government forces.
Widespread illness has been exacerbated by the cold winter weather and a lack of fuel for heating.
“The humanitarian situation in Eastern Ghouta has reached a critical point. As so often in Syria over the last six years, ordinary people are once again trapped in a situation where life slowly becomes impossible and where goods and aid are severely limited,” said the Robert Mardini, the Middle East director for the International Committee of the Red Cross.