A global day for remembering Syria

Dina Ezzat , Saturday 15 Mar 2014

A host of civil society groups are joining hands to demand an end to the three years of one of the worst human tragedies in modern time

Children release balloons in Zaatari refugee camp to mark 3 years since the start of the Syria crisis (Photo: With Syria Flickr Page)

In addressing the three years of turmoil in Syria, Doctors of the World issued a photo documentary on its website to reflect on the “the struggles and acute dangers that both medical staff and civilians face in the extreme conditions of war” in Syria.

A press release issued by the humanitarian organization on this occasion showed medical staff stranded and ambulances trying to rescue the wounded coming under fire.

“We asked the ambulance drivers to stop rushing to the scene of an attack immediately after it has happened, but they don’t follow our recommendations. They cannot stay calm and wait while people are screaming for help”, explains Dr. F. who works in one of the hospitals supported by Doctors of the World in Aleppo.

Meanwhile, six NGOs including the International Federation for Human Rights, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, Reporters without Borders, Amnesty International, and Front Line defenders launched a new website “to shed light on the plight of Syrian civil society activists including human rights defenders, media and humanitarian workers who have been targeted for their work or peaceful activism”.

According to a press release issued by the six organisations, since the beginning of the Syria tragedy three years ago, “ Thousands of civilians have been arrested, abducted, subjected to enforced disappearance, tortured or otherwise ill-treated and sometimes killed merely for exercising their fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association."

Amplifying the voices behind these humanitarian tragedies is precisely what the new website aims to do – as the tragedy unfolds into its fourth year with no end in sight.

The launch of the new website came along with an appeal, from the same organisations, for the release of several prominent activists and journalists including lawyer Razan Zaitouneh, journalist Mazen Darwish and Kurdish writer Hussein Essou.

On the same day marking the third anniversary of the Syria crisis, Thursday, a global campaign was launched by a group of 115 NGOs, to ensure action to provide immediate assistance to Syrians in need and to pursue political action to make sure that come 14 March 2015 the conflict in Syria would will be either resolved or on its way to be resolved.

The main event to mark the sad day was conducted in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan with one hundred Syrian children leading a vigil and balloon release. Other commemoration activities took place in leading capitals around the world.

On the occasion, director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights, Bahieddin Hassan, reminded that today 9.3 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance.

For his part, Justin Forsyth, executive director of Save the Children, appealed to the world to act to end a shocking human tragedy whereby some children have undergone amputation for the sheer lack of antibiotics.

Humanitarians working on Syria have been complaining about the lack of political resolve to ensure that aid to wounded continues in the event the war cannot be stopped.

A recent, unanimously-adopted UN Security Council resolution to boost humanitarian aid access to Syrians in need is yet to have an effect on the situation on the ground.

The resolution was issued after the second round of the Geneva talks in mid-February, had “failed  to   to generate meaningful discussion on political resolution to conflict or improve humanitarian conditions,” according to a recent note by the International Crisis Group.

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