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Are Syrians So Desperate That a Zoo Lion Was Killed For Food?

Are Syrians So Desperate That a Zoo Lion Was Killed For Food?

Last week an image of Syrians and a dead lion — which three men were cutting up while one held the animal’s head — appeared on social media. While the image has not been independently verified, many have been saying that the lion is from Al-Qarya al-Shama Zoo in East Ghouta east of Damascus, an area that has been under siege for months by the Syrian army and whose residents have been reporting food shortages, according to the Independent.

Others have suggested that the men are skinning the lion to use its fur for warmth. Some say that the image is a message to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime because Assad means “lion.”

While the veracity of the image and the reasons for posting it remain mysterious, it is all too clear that the ongoing civil conflict in Syria is taking a harsh toll on its citizens. A group of Syria clerics issued a fatwa last month to allow residents of besieged suburbs and specifically in the agricultural region of Ghouta to eat meat — cats, dogs and donkeys — that is usually forbidden under Islamic law.

As has been too often noted, the ongoing conflict in Syria in which 126,000 have died has been taking a harsh toll on the country’s youth and leading to a generation of damaged children.

More than half of the 2.2 million Syrian refugees are children. Many have fled to neighboring countries like Lebanon and Jordan where they are now living in camps that have been straining their host countries’ resources. A report in the Guardian details Jordan’s efforts to provide an education for thousands of young Syrians:

Around 85,000 Syrians are already registered for school in Jordan, in addition to 21,000 Syrians in refugee camps (compared with 1.3m Jordanians). But 140,000 Syrians of school age are among the 544,000 registered Syrian refugees in Jordan. Most live in urban areas, although about 100,000 are in Zaatari camp, effectively Jordan’s fifth biggest city. Irbid, close to the Syrian border, is Jordan’s third biggest city and is host to more than 126,000 registered Syrian refugees.

At Rufaida school, Jordanians attend from 8am-12pm while Syrians come in the afternoon (12.30-4pm). Last year, 30 new teachers were hired, 36 this year. Double shifts were introduced a year ago to cope with the influx of refugees..

The United Nations has been helping to fund efforts to provide young Syrian refugees with an education; Unicef has been working to recruit more teachers. The real struggle is to get children to go to school at all. Distance is a factor, plus many children have been too traumatized to leave their parents. Others have been forced to work (in supermarkets or cafes or by selling drinks or flowers by the side of the road).

A resurgence of polio in Syria — after the disease had been all but eliminated in the 1990s — has become a further sign of how far the country has deteriorated. 17 cases of the infectious disease have been confirmed.  Though an early-warning medical team, EWARN, that monitors areas held by rebels, is seeking to undertake a mass vaccination campaign in northern Syria, wartime politics has been thwarting their efforts.

For all the violence and disruption to their lives that so many Syrian children have witnessed, many students at one school in Jordan show plenty of enthusiasm for learning, the Guardian reports:

Hands shoot up [in a class of 12-year-olds learning English] as the teacher asks for examples of “comparatives” after writing, “the laptop isn’t as big as the old computer” on a green board with a piece of chalk. One after another, the girls stand up to give examples in halting sentences.

At the start of December, a U.N. inquiry reported that there is not just sufficient but “massive evidence” to implicate Assad in crimes against humanity. 44,381 civilians, including 6,627 children and 4,454 women, have been killed as well as at least 27,746 opposition fighters since the conflict began on March 18, 2011, with the arrest of some teenagers who had written anti-regime graffiti on a building in the southern city of Deraa.

We may not be able to learn why a lion is dead in a zoo near Damascus. Even amid talk of removing chemical weapons from Syria, the damage from this war is likely to be felt for too many years.

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Photo via Thinkstock

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179 comments

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11:25AM PST on Dec 11, 2013

OMG !!!

6:01AM PST on Dec 11, 2013

Sorry but it does seem that Pam is being picked on. I don't think she is saying we should be cannibals. She sounds like some one who hates the evils man as been guilty of. Perhaps we should recognize the merit of doing so ourselves.

12:02AM PST on Dec 11, 2013

Pam B.- Your new post was not that much improved from your old post. You really are sick if you can't even comprehend how sordid your comments are. I hope you seek help soon in both anger management and other areas. By the way, if you can’t recognize what a competition shooters uniform is then I suggest you do a little research, lets not forget whom here is the one who made comments of human cannibalism.

7:05AM PST on Dec 10, 2013

if a lion is carved up and skinned for food and fur, why bother to video it and post it on social media ? it is like a roundabout and savage way of getting the world's attention.

5:24AM PST on Dec 10, 2013

sad

8:52AM PST on Dec 9, 2013

This is very sad, it's sad the lion has died and it's sad that things are so desperate people are having to kill animals and cut them up on the streets in order to survive. Everything about this is just so sad, I can't think of any other word to express what I feel about the whole situation.

5:20AM PST on Dec 9, 2013

Wanda B and Clara H.....

If you are going to attack someone PLEASE be sure you READ and UNDERSTAND their post first.

Pam B said,"I don't think there is any excuse for this. To be honest I'd rather have seen them eat each other. The world is being devastated by human overpopulation. "

Clara H. said, “Pam B your sick if you want humans to die. This is an emergency situation not an everyday thing.”

I agree with you 100% Clara H. Pam B you really are a sick person if you would rather want fathers to eat their sons or mothers to eat their daughters instead of this animal being eaten. Your words are similar to those individuals that are capable of throwing small children in pits with hungry dogs so the dogs can fight for the meat.

I said NOTHING about WANTING people die. Though I sincerely wish they would stop breeding. And I said eat each other, not sons and daughters. And where the **** do you get that my "words are similar to those individuals that are capable of throwing small children in pits with hungry dogs so the dogs can fight for the meat". That's a HUGE assumption on your part. I would never feed humans to dogs. The contamination in the human body would probably kill them. And then someone would want to euthanize the dogs.

And let us not forget who is pointing a gun in their picture.............................

7:00PM PST on Dec 8, 2013

As bad as Assad might be those who oppose him are probably even worse. How could anybody take sides.If the rebels succeed in winning the conflict heaven help the Christians,Alawites and other non muslims in that country.

1:19PM PST on Dec 8, 2013

thanks for posting

7:00AM PST on Dec 8, 2013

What a shame!!!!!!!!!!!!

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