On the 20th of April, 1916, I arrived at Meskene,
and found there 3,500 deported Armenians, and more than 100 orphans. A
part of the people have settled here as bakers and butchers, etc., even
though Meskene is but a halting place. All the rest are begging. In
every tent there are sick and dying. Anyone who cannot manage to get a
piece of bread by begging, eats grass raw and without salt. Many
hundreds of the sick are left without any tent and covering, in the
open, under the glowing sun. I saw desperate ones throw themselves in
grave-trenches and beg the grave-diggers to bury them. The Government
does not give the hungry any bread, and no tent to those who remain
outside. As I was in Meskene, there came a caravan of sick women and
children from Bab. They are in an indescribable condition. They were
thrown down from the wagons like dogs. They cried for water; they were
given each a piece of dry bread, and were left there. No one gave them
any water, though they remained a whole day under the hot sun. We had
to work the whole night to ameliorate their condition a little. Among
the orphans there was a small boy of four years old. It was early in
the morning, and I asked him if he had eaten anything. He looked much
amazed, and said: “I have always gazed at the stars, and my dear
God has satisfied me.” On my questioning him where his father and
mother were, he said simply that they were dead in the desert.
In Meskene I gathered one hundred children under a tent.
I had their hair cut and their rags washed. They received daily some bread and some soup. As I
had to go further, I sought someone to care for the orphans. I found a
young widow from Hadjin, who asked me if she might take the children
under her care. She belonged to a good family and had received a good
education. She gave herself with an intense love to the children-work.
Ten days after my departure they had sent the woman with the one
hundred children South. I found her a few weeks later in Sepka, clothed
in rags. She had lost her wits, and wandered about the place asking,
“Where are my children? What have you done with my
children?” When she had reached Abu Hara she had spent all her
money and was destitute. The children were scattered—a prey to
hunger. In Der-el-Zor I found two of them, the only survivors; they
said that all the rest had perished.
In Meskene I saw more than 600 deported who had lived in
Muara till now, and who had spent a pitiful sojourn of nine months
there. They were now once more persecuted and sent to different places.
Slowly and wearily they came on with their possessions on their backs.
As nourishment they cook grass, press the water out, and make balls
which they dry in the sun.
On the first of May, I came to Debsy, where I found the
above mentioned six hundred deported, all in despair. They had not even
been allowed to rest once or even to gather grass, but had been cruelly
driven on. On the way I found people dying everywhere, exhausted from
hunger and thirst. They had remained behind the caravan and must perish
so painfully. Every few minutes came a stench of corpses. The gendarmes
beat these stragglers, saying that they pretend to be tired. In Debsy
there are 3,000 deported. In Abu Hara 6,000. In both places the death
rate is one per cent. daily. 
In Hama I found 7,000 deported, 3,000 of them hungry and
practically naked. Here there is no grass, the locusts have consumed
everything. I saw the people were gathering locusts and eating them raw
or cooked. Others were looking for the roots of grasses. They catch
street dogs, and like savages pounce upon dead animals, whose flesh
they eat eagerly without cooking. They showed me how they bury the
dead, shallow near the tents.
In Rakka alone there are 15,000 deported in tents. The
camp is situated on both banks of the Euphrates, but these people are
not allowed to enter the city. Rich people are paying from
T£30–40 to get permission from those in authority to live
for a length of time in the city. Everywhere the same lamentable
pictures repeat themselves.
In Sepka there are 1,500 persons who have bought the
privilege of establishing themselves there. The rest, 6,000, remain in
camps on the banks of the Euphrates. There is great misery here. Some
in despair throw themselves into the river. In each deportation from
one place to another, at least five or six perish through the brutal
illtreatment of the accompanying gendarmerie. They expect to extract
money from the poor, and exact vengeance with heavy blows when they
receive nothing. Many are transported on boats in the Euphrates.
In Tibne I found 5,000—everywhere we met caravans
of deportees. In every Arabian village there are some families, in
every Arabian house young women and girls. Here the Government is
giving 150 gr. of bread to every poor person daily. Children and
grown-ups search among the garbage heaps for food, and whatever is eatable (chewable) is eaten. At the
butchers’ people wait eagerly for scraps.
Of every fifty persons who start from Rakka or Sepka on
boats, twenty arrive, often even less. At the time of my arrival, the
Government had gathered 200 orphans in a house in Der-el-Zor. At my
departure (six weeks later) there were 800. They get daily a little
bread and some soup. In the meantime 12,000 deported came to
Der-el-Zor. Every day we see caravans going in the direction of Mosul.
Nevertheless, at my departure, there were at Der-el-Zor and in its
neighbourhood over 30,000 Armenians. Those who have means are getting
permission to delay. The rest must proceed further. The deported are
especially badly treated in the region of Der-el-Zor. The people are
driven back and forward with whip blows, and cannot even take their
most urgent necessities. On my return I met new caravans everywhere.
The people have the appearance of lost men. We often see a whole row of
ghastly forms rising suddenly out of a grave and asking for bread and
water. They have all dug their graves and lie waiting for death. People
of better standing, who cannot make up their minds to beg for a piece
of bread, lie, when exhausted, on their beds, till death comes to
release them. No one looks after them. In Sepka a preacher from Aintab
told me that parents have often killed their children. At the
Government investigation it was shown that some people had eaten their
children. It has happened that dying people have been fought over in
order to secure their flesh for food.
Another report from the region of Meadine and Ana, south
of Der-el-Zor, where there are thousands of deported, will be sent by
the next mail. Our messenger returned to Aleppo on the 20th June. On
the 26th he was again on a journey to the South.