Sunday 9 April 2017

Syria: Why I Care & Ways to Help

In Syria in 2011
I used to campaign a lot, write about human rights in the Middle East, lobby MPs and take part in many anti-war protests and boycotts. I used to follow every bit of local news in some parts of the world especially Palestine, where I worked as a volunteer inside a refugee camp and wrote for the local news channel based in Bethlehem. Since having Pip I haven't been as active as I once was because along with work and life, he takes up most of my time. I admit when the news gets rather depressing I tend to turn off these days. But then when something crops up again to make the headlines like the chemical attack in Syria this week, where at least 80 people were killed including many children, it's no longer the time to turn a blind eye.

I don't have a television but I was staying with family earlier this week and I saw the footage on television. How do we live in a world with a regime that can carry out such atrocities? When I see images of children dying or murdered words really do fail me. It reminds me of being in Palestine when the Gaza War broke out. I remember sitting watching the local television channels with live footage coming out from Gaza, watching children with bullet holes through their bodies and others blown to pieces. Without any media censoring you see everything as it is, the true and horrific realities of war.

After working in Palestine in 2008/2009, I returned to the region in 2011 and travelled through the Middle East including Syria. It was a beautiful country and at the time the conflict was just beginning with only a few small protests in Damascus. It's so sad that the civil war continues and it's heartbreaking to see so many innocent deaths. This conflict isn't new yet it's getting worse. And in retaliation of the gas attacks, Trump has launched US airstrikes on Syria that have inevitably killed more innocent lives. The media is already reporting children killed as a result of the latest US airstrikes. I don't have any answers on how to solve the conflict in Syria but I know airstrikes are not the answer and that includes all over the world including Palestine and Iraq.

We live in one world yet where is our compassion? It's easy to get caught up in our own lives. I was sitting on Brighton beach yesterday, having lunch with a friend in the sunshine, chatting away about ourselves and all the things we get up to, yet in the back of my mind I was thinking about those in Syria. Those poor children suffocating to death. The chemical agent Sarin was used in the attack and is considered a weapon of mass destruction. Sarin attacks the nervous system and causes lung muscle paralysis within a few minutes. It's horrific and that footage has stuck with me. So, it's time to raise awareness again and do something about it.


1. Donate to UK/International organisations:

2. Raise awareness, volunteer for local groups, take action, attend protests, lobby MPs, be an advocate for refugees. See Refugee Action and Stop the War Coalition for more information. On a local scale, here in Brighton there are many local groups helping refugees.

3. Educate yourself and be compassionate. Following the chemical attack, Human Rights Advocate Eeman Abbasi wrote in a serious of tweets with all the ways to help those in Syria. Read the full thread here. Her last point was this: 

'Be a compassionate person. We live in a time of great divide, but never lose sight of our common humanity. You can make an impact.'
I couldn't agree more. We all the potential to make a difference, no matter how little. Let's do it.

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