Skip to main content

Big powers, wide range of vested interests, military-industrial complex, playing havoc with lives of Syrians

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
Syria continues to suffer and struggle. March 15th marks the sixth anniversary of the bloody Syrian war. This afternoon (March 14th), a bomb blast in the city of Homs killed one and injured several. On March 12th, a double bombing near a popular Shiite shrine in Damascus killed over fifty and scores more were left injured. Since December, the eastern areas of Aleppo have been evacuated, but the bombings continue.
The Syrian war, over these six years, has resulted in the deaths of thousands and caused the largest displacement in human history. After experiencing widespread destruction and insecurity, there is a certain desperation and a sense of fatigue among the Syrian people. The general feeling is that most are ready to clutch at any straw, to fan any glimmer of hope.
They yearn for peace, security and stability and want the bombarding and the air strikes to stop now. The UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency), in a statement for the sixth anniversary says, “While there are some hopes for peace, the needs and suffering of millions of Syrians continue unabated.”
Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees adds, “Unless drastic measures are taken to shore up peace and security for Syria, the situation will worsen. Families have been torn apart, innocent civilians killed, houses destroyed, businesses and livelihoods shattered. It is a collective failure. Ultimately, Syria’s conflict isn’t about numbers – it’s about people.”
Today an estimated 13.5 million Syrians need humanitarian assistance and children make up half of that number. Children have lost their childhood; nearly 3 million Syrian children under five have grown up knowing nothing but conflict... More than 6.3 million people are internally displaced within Syria. About 4.9 million others (the majority women and children) have fled to neighbouring countries in the Middle East, including Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. These have put the host communities under huge strain as they shoulder the social, economic and political fallout. Hundreds of thousands have made perilous sea voyages seeking sanctuary; no one is sure how many may have died at sea.
The plain truth is that the suffering of the Syrian people who are refugees and internally displaced, continues with no end in sight. Harsh weather conditions and limited access to basic resources gravely affect displaced families and individuals. Making ends meet is a daily struggle for both the displaced within Syria and those who have fled the country and sought refuge elsewhere. Sizeable sections of them are living in extreme poverty, unable to secure food, water, or medical provisions. Key cities in Syria today have no water, electricity and gas or very little access to these essential commodities.
Delivering humanitarian aid to war-affected populations within Syria is still an urgent issue. There is also the ongoing concern that some neighbouring countries are unable to provide adequate assistance to meet the basic needs of refugees. This lack of assistance threatens the safety of vulnerable people and the stability and security of the region.
Nevertheless, there is hope! There are innumerable stories of resilience in war-torn Syria among the forcibly displaced and from among the Syrians who have sought refuge in other countries. Majeda, a woman from Damascus who fled with her family in search of safety, still holds onto her dream of becoming a lawyer.
Kassem is a young man who, in spite of losing a leg in a bomb blast in Syria, is studying in a school in Lebanon and one day wants to become an art teacher.
There is Randa who has escaped the horrors of war but is now writing a book for little children telling them why war is all wrong. There is Mohamed Qasim, who now lives in Jordan. He suffers from cancer, but with a ‘never-say-die’ spirit is determined to give his little children a better future.
The ‘big powers’ and the wide range of vested interests, particularly the military-industrial complex, continue to play havoc with lives and destinies of the Syrians. There are ‘peace talks’ which take place among the ‘big guys’; not too many however, place too much of hope on them. Majeda, Kassem, Randa and Mohamed are simple, ordinary people.
Each one of them has experienced the horrors of war in profoundly traumatic ways. They represent today, the spectrum of innumerable Syrians who have suffered immensely, but look towards a better future for themselves and for their children. They are some of the many, brave individuals who with their indomitable spirit, want to live a normal peaceful life and look to the future with hope.
The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) of the MENA Region has been working in the midst of the Syrians who are displaced. Despite the challenges, JRS has stayed the course in Syria during the six years of conflict, addressing and serving those in urgent need while advocating for and with Syrians, for life with dignity.
In Damascus and Homs, JRS operates education centres in parallel with child protection programs and psychosocial care for children and adults. In Aleppo, JRS teams provide those most vulnerable with emergency humanitarian assistance of food baskets and non-food items.
When medical facilities in Aleppo came under ferocious bombardments, JRS continued to provide health services. In Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, JRS works with hundreds of Syrian refugees, providing them with emergency assistance as well as ongoing educational and psychosocial support.
In spite of the darkness that this conflict casts over all Syrians, JRS staff and volunteers have also experienced many moments of hope. On March 15th this year, JRS will launch a campaign (you can see a preview HERE) to highlight the stories of Syrians living both inside and outside of the country.
The Campaign will focus on the hope and resilience of the Syrians; of light overcoming darkness, Lola Moussa, who originally hails from the countryside near the city of Homs in Syria, sums up the struggles of the Syrian people meaningfully saying “there is still suffering and much pain - but what keeps us going on is our courage to hope and our continued resilience.”
---
*Indian human rights activist, currently working as advocacy and communication officer of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) of the MENA Region

Comments

TRENDING

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Contempt of court? UP CM taking 'personal vendetta' against Dr Kafeel Khan: Activists

Counterview Desk
Demanding that the Uttar Pradesh government immediately release well-known paediatrician Dr Kafeel Khan, a group of more than 100 academicians, activists, researchers, doctors and lawyers have said in an open letter that he is being “targeted at the behest of the chief minister”, wondering, “When is an act of challenging the government a threat under the National Security Act (NSA)?”

A locked up offer? Govt of India 'not serious' in involving NGOs: IIM-A survey

By Rajiv Shah
Was the Government of India serious when it asked 92,000 civil society organizations (CSOs) in early April to “assist” state governments and district administrations in taking care of food, shelter and other needs of migrant workers, known to have been affected by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’ sudden 21-day lockdown in order to “combat” the spread of Covid-19 virus, announced on March 24?

Will Govt of India, ICMR end 'perverse' practice of extracting profits from ill-health?

By Asmita Verma, Surabhi Agarwal, Bobby Ramakant*
The Epidemics Act, 1897 gives the central and state governments authority to impose any regulations which may be necessary to contain the outbreak of a disease. Some state governments such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhatisgarh have already used this power to bring private healthcare facilities in their state under government control.

Dalits in India, Blacks in US suffer 'similar' humiliation: Macwan drafts letter to Trump

Counterview Desk
Well-known human rights activist Martin Macwan, recipient of the prestigious Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2000, has drafted an open letter to US President Donald Trump following the disturbing turn of events with the murder of George Floyd, leading to widespread protests in the US. He has sought signatures of concerned citizens before sending it to Trump.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

'Violation' of migrant workers' human rights: Legal notice to IIM-A director, govt babus

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to the police action against protesting migrant workers off the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) on May 18, senior Gujarat High Court advocate Anandvardhan Yagnik, in a legal notice to the IIM-A director "on their behalf" has said that the workers had only been seeking to to go back to their home states, Jharkhand and West Bengal, for the last more than 20 days because they were not paid their “earned wages because of the lockdown.”

Sitharaman's offer for rural jobs to 'create' just 3 crore rural jobs. Demand: 12 crore jobs

By Amarjeet Kaur*
The final package, the fifth one in a row, announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on May 17 was a fiasco. Sitharaman during her press conference for two hours and six minutes spent more than an hour detailing the policy actions of her government’s last six years’ rule, repeating the already provided proposals during the two budgets after coming to power for the second time, even as reiterating her briefings on the four earlier packages she had announced over the previous four days.