The Syrian refugee crisis including those internally displaced, those in neighbouring countries and the few who have made it to other shores is the biggest civilian tragedy since WWII. And yet there is a paralysis in ordinary people who would like to help but feel unable to, mainly because News is all about the war or the terrorists that emerge as a consequence, but not the good work being done by those who are committed to help, even in the knowledge that such help is partial and does not go to the root of the problem: the pigheaded politicians who feed the conflict.

The only solution is Peace through negotiation and for those of us in a position to influence public opinion the only valid message is work for reconciliation, bring all the parties to the negotiating table, hear the grievances and demand compromise.

Agencies delivering humanitarian aid to Aleppo, E.g., Unicef (you can donate on-line or by telephone)  say:

“Five years into the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic, the situation is only becoming more severe and there are no signs that the conflict is abating. As of November 2015, 10.8 million Syrians were internally displaced or had become refugees, including the more than 4.3 million Syrian refugees now living in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Children make up more than 51 per cent of the refugee population. Turkey is now hosting 2.1 million Syrian refugees, Lebanon is hosting nearly 1.1 million and Jordan is hosting 630,000. The conflict in Iraq has further compounded the Syrian refugee crisis, with 3.2 million Iraqis displaced within Iraq since January 2014. Many of the 245,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq are located in the same geographical area as internally displaced Iraqis, placing a major burden on host communities and services. The number of Syrian refugees across the sub-region is expected to rise to 4.69 million by the end of 2016. The scale and protracted nature of the Syrian crisis is challenging the ability of host governments and the international community to meet the continuing need for essential life-saving humanitarian assistance.”

Unicef is also setting up children’s projects for those already in Europe for education and protection, as well as denouncing the exploitation of abuse and children in refugee camps (Alternet.)

A list of agencies carrying out aid work with Refugees can be found  here .

Getting involved with the Aid effort in this case is not simple charity but it also delivers a strong message to those in power: that people all over the world care about the conflict. There is a political message there too. And a strong message to the displaced and the refugees, we care about you. These deeply traumatised populations, in particular the children, need to feel the world’s human solidarity in order to grow up in the best psychological conditions. The price not to do so is, as we all know, too high.

Stopping the War

An editorial by Ian Sinclair interviewing Oxfam’s Andy Baker for openDemocracy  asks: “Is UK foreign policy helping to fuel the conflict in Syria?”

The crisis in Syria is well into the sixth year now. Civilians are increasingly the victim of bombings, attacks, and displacement by all warring parties which are primarily and directly responsible for the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country. Powerful countries such as Russia, the US, France and the UK are also fuelling the conflict to varying degrees whether through inadequate diplomatic pressure, political and military support to their allies, or direct military action. The recent fighting around Aleppo is the latest example of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children caught in the cross-fire, threatened by death from land and air, and facing severe shortages in food and medicine that could lead to even more deaths. Overall in Syria, humanitarian needs are increasing every day. All the while, access to civilians, especially in besieged areas, has not improved beyond one-off deliveries here and there, tied to ongoing political negotiations.”… “The UK and other members of the UN Security Council have a responsibility to ensure civilians are protected and peace and security maintained. Resolutions of the Security Council have been consistently flouted and ignored by their allies on the ground. Britain is also part of the US led coalition against ISIS that has ongoing military operations in Syria. This has done little, if anything, to deal with either civilian suffering or the root causes of the conflict.”

Stopping arms sales to all the factions by way of a comprehensive Arms embargo

Write to your political representative, vote for people who clearly promote peace and have no financial interests in the Arms Trade, begin or support a pressure group advocating an end to weapons sales to the warring factions.

Supporting Peace and Nonviolence organisations in and outside Syria

Whether through social networks or walking directly into a meeting or starting a project to establish a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence (or helping Pressenza do this!) all efforts to change the culture of violence of the present system that justifies and promotes war add up, no matter how remote or apparently unconnected.

Supporting Reconciliation between “enemy” groups from Syria in your own country

“…If we are searching for sincere reconciliation with ourselves and with those who have hurt us intensely it is because we want a profound transformation of our lives.  A transformation that takes us out of resentment where clearly no one reconciles with anyone and not even with themselves.  When we are able to understand that an enemy does not live in our interior but rather a being full of hopes and failures, a being in whom we can see in a short succession of images, beautiful fulfilling moments and also moments of frustration and resentment.  When we are able to understand that our enemy is a being who also has lived with hopes and failures, a being that has had beautiful fulfilling moments and also moments of frustration and resentment then we are placing a humanizing look over the skin of monstrosity.” Silo, 2007