Thursday, March 23, 2017

REFLECTIONS from an outsider as the Syrian Revolution Enters its Sixth Year

The Syrian revolution (along with other major conflicts like the civil war in South Sudan and the war in Yemen) - with its suffering of so many innocents - has taught me tough life lessons.  The very skin has been scraped off my normally optimistic view of the world, I’ve witnessed that human resiliency is more powerful and constant than the rising and setting of the sun, witnessed that a few people have more courage than I ever could have imagined and that collectively humans seem not to learn from our past.

In the scheme of things I’m not important. Not more important than any other average Josephine. I don’t have extensive training in the politics of the world order. I have a loving family, am competent in my profession as acting chief financial officer for a number of businesses and donate time where I can. Please take that into account when considering what I am about to share. What is informing my opinions and comments is that I’ve volunteered in a very remote, minor capacity in the wheel of aid with Syrian refugees in Jordan for nearly five years.

Further disclaimers – I’m American of French and Italian descent with no Syrian in my background. I’m not a professional relief worker. I simply chose to act by volunteering in a situation I found unfathomable, unconscionable and morally bankrupt all the while watching most of the world stand by doing close to nothing.

Serious aspects of the United Nations are failing horribly. Some are doing a standup job in the most trying of situations.

Specifically, the UN Security Council’s charge is “…maintenance of international peace and security…” (UN Charter, Chapter V, Article 24). The UN Security Council has failed Syrians abominably. One of the Security Council’s member states, Russia, is enacting war crimes on a regular basis since they joined Assad’s genocidal rampage at the end of September of 2015. Bombing hospitals, Red Cross/Red Crescent relief trucks and bombing residents with impunity, just like Assad.  Reform of the Security Council is needed now.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has dealt with the greatest humanitarian crisis of our generation being called to provide relief for 4.8 million externally displaced Syrian refugees and 6.6 million displaced within Syria (Syrian Refugees EU; ). That’s 11.3 million people thus far without homes in the Syrian conflict alone. Though the relief provided by the UNHCR hasn’t been perfect, considering the scale and immediacy of the crisis, I applaud their efforts.

I’ve seen firsthand the wonderful work of United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in al Zaatari Syrian refugee camp in Mafraq and other smaller camps within Jordan. They provide a lifeline especially for education within camps, albiet not on the scale needed.

Syria’s Assad has committed war crimes – documented war crimes being readied for the International Criminal Court – on an unprecedented scale before the entire world. Videos of bombing homes, dead bodies on prison floors, bombing relief convoys, etc.  I was horrified for the first year. Sick to my stomach horrified. In incredulous disbelief in the second year. Disbelief that the world knows what it knows and does nothing to stop it. Angry the 3rd year and depressed the fourth.  Numb the fifth.  If a distant bystander such as I have felt these things, what on earth is happening to the minds and souls in Syria? And the medical staff that treat the never ending flow of horrific injuries?

           Caesar's photos of systemic torture and killing of detained persons by agents of the Syrian   government as displayed at the UN

The saying “Never again” in reference to the Jewish Holocaust is hollow. Because it’s been happening for over five years in full view of the world, documented, recorded and NO ONE has helped stop genocidal Assad. We humans like to live in a world of denial until crap hits us. The only thing we appear to be complaining about now is the influx of refugees. Well, dears, had someone had the moral courage to stop Assad years ago we wouldn’t be dealing with said refugees. They’d be home safe, tucked in their beds. Righteously blame the victims of the horror and whoever else you want. But the fact is we each hold a piece of the blame. Any and everyone who has looked at a picture, read a story about or witnessed the suffering first hand and has done nothing is blameworthy.

I could continue to complain but I won’t because it’s pointless. I’ll be a microscopic piece of the clean-up crew sweeping away the dust of horrors committed by the powerful, continuing (in my fifth year) to make educational packs for Syrian refugee children in the Middle East. Because that’s what I can do. And I’ll continue to raise money for the Syrian American Medical Society, the foremost leader in rebuilding the medical infrastructure and medical underground in Syria because they save lives. And put the brutally broken pieces of humanity back together one suture at a time.

Video: Syrian American Medical Society: Supporting Medics, Saving Lives, Advocating to End Attacks on Healthcare and Civilians

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