Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Syria: Crisis Appeal and Candlelit Vigil

Earlier this week I tweeted about the fact that Eli was almost two.  Almost two years old!  On the one hand it feels as though it has gone in the blink of an eye, but on the other, so so much has happened in that time.  Because two years IS a long time.

I gave him an extra big hug this morning and thought about how different it would be if for the entire two years of his life he had suffered displacement, hunger, been witness to acts of violence or even been shot at.  Truly a horrendous thought for any mother.  But it is estimated that nearly 2 million children have been affected in this way by the civil war currently raging in Syria.

This week it is two years since the violence in Syria began.  Two whole years.  A heck of a long time.  Can you even imagine what it would be like?  

I was sent an interview by Tearfund, of five families who are currently living in a three bedroom apartment and have been affected by the civil war.  It is an unedited interview, just the raw information and I've played with it and shortened in but in the end, it didn't feel right.  I think it's most powerful when you read it as it is.  Because it's reality for these families.


Image courtesy of Eleanor Bentall/ Tearfund
***

Katie (Head of Media at Tearfund, who visited these families in February): Thank you for inviting us into your home.  We feel very honoured to be invited.

Aamil*: You are most welcome and we’re sorry that we cannot offer what you really deserve.  We are living in very bad conditions and things are very difficult financially. Only God knows what is happening to us in this house.

*name has been changed to protect people.

Katie: We’ve come from London and we bring greetings from British people who care about what is happening to Syrians.

Aamil: Thank you, we are very grateful for you.  You are most welcome.

Katie: Could you tell us your story of how you came here from Syria and who came with you?

Aamil: We were living in Deraa when something like 20,000 soldiers came into our neighbourhood.  They started shooting and killed about 300 people. They also burned our houses.

So we left our homes carrying nothing, no money, no food, no clothing, only the things that we are wearing, that’s all.

They were pursuing us with tanks so I took my whole family and left that neighbourhood. We left immediately and went to Zaatari in Jordan.

(Zaatari is the big official refugee camp.)

Katie: How long did you stay at Zaatari?

Aamil: One week.  We stayed for one week.

Katie: Why did you not stay longer?

Aamil: The main reason was because of my father who is blind.

My son is sick and he couldn’t stand the weather there. He couldn’t stay there because he was sick immediately.

(His son is small, has Downs Syndrome and had a protruding hiatus hernia in stomach.)

My sister who also has Downs Syndrome was sick too and she suffered from something in her eyes so she couldn’t see at that time.

[She appears still not to be able to see since her sickness.]

Katie: How many children do you have?

Aamil: Five.

Katie: There are more than five children here. Did they all come with you or separately in different families?

Aamil: We all came together.

Katie: And when you left Zaatari, where did you go from there?

Aamil: There were very harsh conditions in Zaatari and we couldn’t live there so we left and came to this house immediately. We borrowed money so that we could rent this apartment.

We pay 400 dinars [approx £400] for this apartment, and we have to pay every two months, so £800 for each payment.  If we don’t pay, they will throw us out.

Katie: How big is this apartment?

Aamil: There’s a living room and three bedrooms.

Katie: So three bedrooms for five families. Is that right?

Aamil: Yes that’s right.

Katie: Is there enough food?  Can you stay warm?

Aamil: No.  We don’t have any food at all.  Nobody has helped us and we suffer from cold during the night especially.

Katie: Have you been able to register with UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency)?

I have an appointment with UNHCR but not until 11 June though we received a certain sum to help for the first three months. 

I already have a yellow card [ID] but we really need the registration card from the United Nations. Nobody accepts the yellow card.  They always demand that card from the United Nations.

My sister is 23.  She used to pray every day but since she got sick with her eyes she is doing nothing.

I went so many times seeking help for the treatment of my sister but so far I didn’t receive anything and it costs me a lot for transportation, going back and forth.

And my son is sick too.  He is fourteen years old [this is the boy with Downs Syndrome who looks about seven] and he is still wearing nappies.

And the bad thing there [the lump protruding from his stomach] is getting bigger and bigger every day.

Katie: Do you hope to go back to Syria one day?

Aamil: With the situation that is taking place right now there in Syria, we don’t want to go but we hope that in future when it’s safe we will go back.  We hope to go back to Syria and to receive you in Syria as our guests.

Katie: Thank you.

***

Last week UNHCR registered the millionth Syrian refugee.  At the start of the year it was predicted that the 1 millionth mark would be hit in June.  It's only March.  The situation in Syria has grown steadily worse and nothing is changing.

Image courtesy of Eleanor Bentall/ Tearfund

Last September I wrote a post about the Untold Atrocities that the children of Syria were facing.  Nothing has changed.  Nothing.  

We need to shout louder.

Tomorrow a number of agencies will join together to hold candelit vigils around the world to highlight that the conflict in Syria is still ongoing.

What can I do?

We need people to make some noise, to make sure that our politicians know that it's time to do something about this crisis and we need to keep on making noise until they act to save Syria's children, save the families, save all those who have been and are being, and will be affected if they don't.

If you are the praying sort, pray!!  Pray for the people of Syria and for peace. 

Join the vigil and light a candle tomorrow.

You could sign up to the Save the Children, and leave a message.  Throughout tomorrow they will be flooding social media with the messages, demanding that world leaders do something about the Syrian crisis.

If you want to donate to the campaign, providing much needed help, you can do so here.

You can tweet about the crisis, or share a Facebook status using the hashtag #syriacrisis

If you have a blog, you could write about it and share the message that this time, we will be heard.  


Image courtesy of Eleanor Bentall/ Tearfund

We will let the people of Syria know that they have not been forgotten.

4 comments:

  1. It sounds horrendous what they are going through and I can't believe it's been 2 years! Ill definitely sign the petition!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for highlighting this - millions of people suffering whilst other countries debate and do nothing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The world debates and does nothing whilst millions suffer in Syria - a well written article highlighting the plight of ordinary people.

    ReplyDelete

I love to hear from people who've taken the time to read - do leave a comment :)