My last article on Syria focused on the implications of the involvement of Western powers in this hostile region following the terror strikes in Paris in November 2015. Today, nine months later I realise that I, like most citizens of the ‘lesser-affected’ nations, missed the bigger picture when I wrote the aforementioned article simply because the possibility of a “third world war” emerging out of Syria affected me and not the horrifying cesspool of death and destruction that the crisis has turned into. This misguided notion that the horrors of the Syrian civil war will only affect us when ISIS starts burning our own cities to the ground is the reason why the world has let the situation in Syria escalate to where it has today. It has reached a stage where we no longer care about the millions dying on a regular basis until and unless a European city becomes a target of the Islamic State, a stage where we care more about making a trip to a refugee camp for publicity or the building up of our resume rather than actually helping people, a stage where a picture of a three year old boy lying dead on a beach or of a five year old covered in blood, dust and rubble is required to galvanise our leaders into action or evoke some sympathy out of us.
Omar Daqneesh and his family may have survived the airstrike in Aleppo (if you call losing your home, sustaining severe injuries and probably being traumatized for the rest of your life surviving) but hundreds of thousands of people continue to be victims of the events occurring in Syria and the rest of us continue to sit by and do nothing. The United Nations have estimated that there are still around 18 million civilians living in Syria down from 25 million at the start of the war. The conditions that these people are forced to live in are unimaginable for those of us sitting in the comfort of our own homes and reading this on a laptop. With limited food production and food aid often being sold in black, thereby increasing its prices immensely, the number of people starving to death has increased drastically across the country. Healthcare facilities are repeatedly attacked and medical personnel killed reducing people’s access to basic health services. The most horrifying statistics however are those regarding the children of the country. With over fifteen thousand dead since the beginning of the war, the children growing up in this warzone are not only subjected to the horrors of war but are unable to access their basic fundamental rights as human beings on this planet, namely, food, water and education.
The sad reality is that the country has lost an entire generation of children as a result of just five years of civil war. Whereas Omar Daqneesh and his family are fighting for their lives within the country, there are thousands like Aylan Kurdi who in spite of somehow making it out of the country are still victims of all the aforementioned problems. The refugee crisis has not improved in any way whatsoever and the rise of conservatism and an anti-immigrant sentiment across Europe has only made the situation worse. Furthermore, with the Islamic State’s repeated attacks on European cities one has to wonder how long it is before every country in the continent shuts its doors to the Syrian refugees and how many more shell shocking pictures of young boys and girls have to disseminate before the international community takes action. It saddens me that I have to conclude this article in the same way I did nine months ago because not much has changed in Syria during this period (other than the death toll which rises each and every day) and it continues to be a problem without an immediate solution.
Featured Image Credits: www.independent.co.uk