Monday, 25 January 2016

Inconceivable and Ignorable Syria...

March 15 will mark the end of the 5th year of the conflict in Syria; the situation for civilians remains catastrophic and - for most of us here in safe, comfortable, predictable Australia - completely unimaginable. Such is the intensity of the violence in Syria that, on average, 50 families an hour are uprooted, and have been every hour of every day since 2011: the number of internally displaced Syrians now stands at 6.6 million. But 13.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, of those, more than 5.6 million are children.

I find it hard to imagine what that looks like, but for an equivalent in Australia that is the population of NSW: every single person in NSW (not just Sydney, the whole state) not just homeless, but running from homes in fear of bombs and bullets. (If the same rate of displacement occurred in Melbourne the city would be empty in just over 3 years.)

Most days I receive word from colleagues in Turkey, Jordan or Lebanon of the inconceivable lengths to which people have gone to seek safety. Most days I am informed of the cessation of programming, or the need to move again, because another bomb has landed on, or near our programming site. It is happening every day, but most days it doesn’t make the news – it doesn’t even make it to my desk.

5 years on and for most – it is something happening ‘over there somewhere’ and because it doesn’t impact me, it is easy to ignore, or at least quarantine. That is until we see heart wrenching photos of starving children on our widescreen televisions then, for a while at least we will feel bad.

I don’t pretend to have the answers to how this is stopped, but as the international decision makers come together again, (February 4 in London) for yet another conference on Syria – the Supporting Syria and the Region Donor conference - perhaps we start by praying that they put aside their own political and economic agenda and focus on the people of Syria who just want the same as you and I – a safe place, a home. (Could it be that the European/Syrian refugee crisis is void if people can go home and be safe.)

(In the meantime if you have the resources to help me help the children of Syria, you can make a donation here.)