12 Mar 2015

Syria’s lights go out – satellite images show devastation

Four years of civil war have plunged the country in to darkness – with new analysis of satellite imagery showing that 83 per cent of lights in the country have gone out.

As the anniversary of the Syrian conflict approaches, in which more than 200,000 people have died, the images show for those civilians who remain, their county is being destroyed around them.

The worst affected areas of the conflict have been plunged into near total darkness – with up to 97 per cent of the lights going out.

“Four years since this crisis began, Syria’s people have been plunged into the dark: destitute, fearful, and grieving for the friends they have lost and the country they once knew,” said David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee.

“Four years since the crisis began, there is at present very little light in this tunnel. Over two hundred thousand people have been killed and a staggering eleven million have been forced to flee their homes.

“Syrians deserve much better from the international community – it is past time to show that we have not given up and will work with them to turn the lights back on.”

A coalition of humanitarian organisation, With Syria, has released the images as it calls on the UN to act as well as the video below.

The analysis of satellite imagery of Syria was carried out by Dr. Xi Li of the Laboratory for Information Engineering in Surveying, Mapping and Remote Sensing at Wuhan University in China.

“Satellite imagery is the most objective source of data showing the devastation of Syria on a national scale,” said Dr Xi Li.

“Taken from 500 miles above the earth, these images help us understand the suffering and fear experienced by ordinary Syrians every day, as their country is destroyed around them.”

The images show that the lights go out in the worst hit areas of the country. Aleppo, which has been the focal point of battles between the Assad regime and various rebel groups, has lost 97 per cent of its lights.

Raqqah, where the Islamic State group has its stronghold, has lost 96 per cent of its lights.

Around 220,000 people have died over the four years of conflict, a new report from charities including Oxfam, Norwegian Refugee Council and Save the Children said on Thursday, 12 March 2015.

The report accused the UN Security Council of failing to implement UN resolution designed to protect civilians and increase humanitarian action. The report says in 2014 5.6 million children required humanitarian aid – up 31 per cent, and 76,000 people were killed.

Against this backdrop humanitarian funding has plummeted, the report says. In 2013 71 per cent of the funds needed to support civilians in Syria were provided. That figure fell to 57 per cent in 2014.