Syria: Bucket children
As the siege of Eastern Ghouta, a Damascus suburb, enters its third year, swarms of children armed with buckets can be intermittently seen scavenging the streets and bombed-out buildings in between rounds of fighting.
They roam around on empty stomachs, hoping to find scraps of food and clean water. Some of them walk up to 15km a day for a single meal, feasting on anything from vegetable broth to stale bread made from animal feed.
Limited supplies of food have reached the markets since the siege of Eastern Ghouta began in October 2012, and this does not include fresh milk and meat. The increasingly scarce supply of staples such as bread and rice has created a black market for the coveted goods, with some shops raising their prices by 600 percent.
Reaching out to support the bucket children of Eastern Ghouta and others at risk, has been particularly challenging for the international community. The Syrian government must grant groups access to operate in Syria, and only about 15 or 16 international NGOs currently have authorisation to do so.
The longer these bucket children wait for aid, the graver the effect will be on their mental and physical wellbeing. Makeshift clinics staffed by a few volunteer doctors and community members in Eastern Ghouta have reported a recent increase in cases of malnutrition and kidney failure.
Pray for these children and an end to the ongoing conflict in Syria.