Published on February 10th, 2014 |
by Ysabelle McGuire
Image © Bo Yaser 2012
When will the Violence End? – Thoughts on Syria.
It all began in March 2011, in the city of Deraa, Syria. It gradually progressed from a protest after fifteen school children were arrested and then tortured for writing anti-government graffiti on a wall, but that peaceful protest against the torture of these children seems so far in the past. The uprising against the violent, and destructive government of Syria has resulted in a state in the middle of a civil war – the use of chemical weapons, rape as a military strategy, summary executions, torture, kidnappings, death due to easily preventable diseases, and the re-emergence of Polio has finally called for some change, with a second round of peace talks happening in Geneva this week – in hope to help the remaining civilians trapped within Syria.
Since the violence began in Syria it has been clear to every single person outside of Syria, (and apparently outside of politics as they have been ignoring it so well) that there has been a great infringement upon the human rights of the civilians in this troubled country. Already over 125,000 people have died, millions have been forced from their homes, and millions have fled Syria altogether to seek refuge in hope that this will make their lives better.
This week, after almost three years in civil unrest, aid operations are due to begin in besieged areas of Homs, hopefully, if all goes to plan, there will be safe passage out for civilians that wish to leave and seek refuge elsewhere, and there will be entrance for humanitarian assistance for those who choose to stay. This has come after the starvation of those in Homs has been brought to light, after claims that some have been living on nothing more than olives and water for weeks, if not months.
The UN has been very critical of the violence in Syria, but it has not been able to agree on how to help the civilians of Syria, until recent weeks. As the main aim of the Geneva peace conference this week is said to be securing humanitarian aid, that will hopefully be entering Syria soon, we can hope that things will get a little better in 2014 for the civilians of Syria. Quite frankly, if they don’t, Syria will be in much more trouble than a civil war. With people dying every single day from easily treated and preventable diseases, and two million children dropped out of school due to one in five schools being destroyed throughout Syria, this humanitarian aid and peace talks really could not have come any sooner (although it probably should have!).
The end of all of the civilian suffering can only happen by the fighting being brought to an end, but this is looking incredibly unlikely, still, as both sides believe that they have ‘every reason’ to continue fighting, despite the colossal damage to the Syrian people, and their country. The only way to stop the fighting is a political solution, which we have been waiting for, for nearly three years now. Whilst Russia pressing for ceasefire has been productive, and allowed some of the innocent civilians, and the ill and injured to be evacuated from Homs – many will argue that it is a minor development and much bigger plans need to put into place to combat this humanitarian crisis and end the violence.
In all honesty, I do not think that enough has been done to save and protect the people of Syria. People have argued that its not our place to step into and get involved with, but international politics affects absolutely everyone on some sort of scale, if it didn’t, we wouldn’t hear about it on the news every day. Whilst the UK have been doing as much as they could, with political and military intervention being set aside – those that support human rights claim that the £500 million in aid that the UK have sent in aid for the civilians is not enough. The fact that men and boys aged between 15 and 55 have been prevented from leaving the country; is disgusting, especially considering that the reason for them not being able to leave is that they are assumed to be ‘anti-Assad’ fighters. I am not entirely sure that without evidence, you can assume that these people are contributing to the violence, and restricting people’s freedoms without such evidence is not acceptable. Although I am not a big fan of military intervention, as it is just bombing to stop bombing in my eyes, something needs to be done to protect the people of Syria. Any political solution is going to lead to some sort of military involvement, and it is an unfortunate, inevitable, necessary evil.
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