International Affairs

Syria Cries, Yet The World Turns A Deaf Ear

Ashirbad Nayak elucidates on the crisis of rampant bombing and attacks in Syria, at the helm of the ISIS and the plight of the Syrian people, also specifying the possible solutions that maybe implemented. 

Since the inception of the brutal civil war in Syria in 2011, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been massacred, and millions more have been left injured, maimed and disabled. Add to that the number of people who have been forced to desert their homes and homeland, we arrive at a staggering figure of 7.6 million Internally Displaced People (IDP), and 4.2 million refugees, which contributed to the burgeoning European Refugee Crisis in 2013. However, the matter of gravest concern is that there is still no visible end to the strife in sight, with the government and rebels still going strong.

The war has been intermittently punctuated by short-lived peace agreements which usually last for a few weeks, before being thrown to the winds. Add to that the worrisome factor of the presence of ISIS, and we have a powder keg like situation which can explode any moment. Aided and abetted by the American and Russian support respectively, the rebels and Bashar al-Assad led government troops have fought a bloody war in the streets of Syria. Historically significant cities as Aleppo and Damascus, have been left in ruins, the last vestiges of their erstwhile glory, now a mere figment of memory. The use of chemical weapons on civilians and usage of child soldiers demonstrate the blatant violation of basic human rights laws in the region. Furthermore, the economy and the infrastructure are in tatters. Caught in this crossfire are the common people of Syria, trapped between a rock and a hard place. There is a dire need for humanitarian intervention and immediate ceasefire of hostilities in the region to protect the lives and tend to the injured.

While the world stood in solidarity with Paris, in the wake of the series of terror attacks in 2015, which resulted in the loss of a few hundred lives, no one questioned the retaliatory measures of the French Government which led to the death of 2400 civilians in Syria. Unfortunately, there has been no cohesion between the two factions aimed at combating ISIS, one of which is led by the USA and the other by Russia. Thus, more often than not, their airstrikes which aim at curbing the rising ISIS threat, targets civilians and results in uncalled for losses of civilians and non-combatants.

On the ground, in Syria, there are numerous instances of human rights violations. Child rape, molestations, murder, kidnapping, human trafficking, violation of dignity of women, religious persecution (the videos of ISIS burning the Jordanian pilot, and beheading civilians sent chilling shivers down our spines, and will always come back to haunt us in our nightmares), destruction of property and houses, have made it an extremely unsafe region for people. While all of Syria, has been turned into a battleground, it is the common folk, who got left behind in the trenches, at the mercy of the government, rebels, and terrorist forces. Lack of proper healthcare and medical facilities and the inability of healthcare organisations as Red Cross and Red Crescent to reach out to those in need, owing to the unending firefight, have contributed in spreading of infectious diseases and death of the injured, whose lives could have been saved, had proper medical treatment been administered in time.

For those who managed to flee the persecution, another garish nightmare awaited them. The long and arduous journey by sea, and land to Europe, in search of a safe haven, was met with hostility and indifference by the Europeans. The picture of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, who drowned while attempting the perilous journey by sea, is forever etched in our memories, which begs the question, how many such incidents will take place, before everyone comes to their senses.

The plight of people who have been housed in refugee rehabilitation camps is too gruesome to describe in words. Migrant camps such as the one in Calais, France (which has been labelled as a ‘jungle’) have become hotbeds for anti-Western propaganda, and a recruitment ground for extremist groups, who find it easier to sway the disgruntled and easily malleable refugee youths by blaming their predicament on the actions of the Western nations. Besides security concerns, healthcare conditions in these camps are indescribable. Proper sanitation and basic hygiene are non-existent, consequentially, epidemics break out frequently and infect a large number of people. Those lucky few, who manage to get citizenship in European countries, find it hard to blend into their adopted nation. Extreme cultural and racial prejudice, coupled up with restrictions and sanctions on occupation and employment, make it even more difficult for these people to adapt to their new environment. As a result, the delicately balanced fabric of domestic harmony is dealt a body blow.

When it is all said and done, the Syrian Civil War shall also probably go down as the biggest failure of the United Nations Organisation. It was the shortcomings of the UN to act as a mediator, between the warring factions, which lead to the exacerbation of the situation. And once the war broke out, the UN did not enforce the international legislations and laws on the warring parties and instead left the Kurdish rebels to fend for themselves. Once the war actually broke out, the UN led attempts to tend to the injured and dying proved to be extremely inadequate. However, it was the Refugee crisis which brought out UN’s helplessness to the limelight. Unable to deal with a problem of this magnitude, the UN left the EU on its own to deal with this predicament. Had it not been for the humanitarian gesture of Angela Merkel’s Germany, who took in over a million asylum seekers, the consequences of the thronging of refugees along European borders, would have been similar to a scene straight out of a post-apocalyptic story.

 

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

The solution to this chaos is not too far to seek. But, it would require all the involved parties to put aside their differences and vested interests and come back to the drawing board for the greater good. The primary focus of all the factions must be upon pushing back ISIS instead of fighting amongst themselves. Once that has been achieved, the mutual differences can be ironed out by mutual negotiations, these discussions shall have representatives from both sides. In the meantime, relief and aid can be provided to the affected. Once a consensus has been reached, proper channels can be established to bring back the migrants, and refugees. All attempts at rehabilitation must be undertaken by competent agencies. The economy and infrastructure would need to be rebuilt from the scratch and this would require billions of dollars in interest-free loans. This, of course, can be provided by money lending agencies as the World Bank, or the European Investment Bank. Proper security measures should be put in place, so as to prevent foreign aggression against the weakened country. All war crimes and human rights violation would need to be addressed. The guilty ought to be brought to book, and the victims compensated for their losses. Given the bountiful oil and gas reserves in Syria, there is a very good shot at the resurrection of the country.

Yet, these are still unfulfilled dreams and nothing can come off them unless all the actors in this sordid saga, are willing to budge from their rigid stance. As 2016 draws to a close, we are only left guessing what the advent of the New Year shall bring for the people of Syria. However, as long as there is the fundamental belief of hope and faith in this world, we need to keep our fingers crossed, do our bit, and say a little prayer for the happiness and turn of fortunes for our Syrian brothers and sisters.