Seven years on, the brutal conflict in Syria continues - devastating lives and forcing millions to flee from their homes.
The IRC’s President and CEO David Miliband joined other experts at RUSI in London to ask ‘What next for Syria?’ Here’s what you need to know – and what we’re hearing on the ground.
1. Syria is dropping off the news agenda – which presents a real danger
There is a danger that Syria is going to become yet another forgotten crisis.
Attention may not be on Syria - but in a conflict seemingly without end, the atrocities continue. There is a danger that Syria is going to become yet another forgotten crisis. It is vital that we continue to expose the reality in Syria. And the reality is that the violence continues and civilians continue to suffer.
2. This war is not over – and is at risk of becoming a poster-child for 21st century war
The war is not over. The conflict rages on. September was the most violent month since fall of Aleppo in 2016.
The IRC has 1000 staff inside Syria but the realities of war make day-to-day life and work extremely challenging.
Syria can’t be the poster-child for 21st century warfare. There is an urgent need for aid to be allowed to reach Syrians living under siege and for those who have committed abuses of international law to be held to account.
The targeting of civilians remains a tactic of war. The targeting of medical facilities carries on. There’s an increasing sense that anything goes.
We need to make sure that aid workers can reach the most vulnerable. Because no access means no support for the people who need it most.
Syria remains a crisis and we must act.
3. We must give voice to Syrians – to show the reality on the ground.
Fighting in northern Syria’s Deir Ez-Zour has displaced more than 200,000 people in recent weeks. In one week alone, 15,000 people were forced to flee every day to displacement camps such as Areesha.
Sara* spoke to the IRC about her journey:
“We ran to the desert after our village was bombed. There for over a week, we had no food and had to drink from the river. We could not bring more than one bottle of water at a time, as we were hiding from ISIS. Two of my children died because of hunger and heat in the desert. They were only one and three years old.”
We had no food and had to drink from the river. We could not bring more than one bottle of water at a time, as we were hiding from ISIS.
“We tried to escape but were caught by ISIS. They told us they would only let us go if we left our daughter behind so she could become a wife for an ISIS fighter. I cried and begged them not to take my daughter. They let her go. But instead they killed my nephew. They did not allow us to bury him.”
“They said that if they saw us again they would kill all of us. We finally managed to cross the river by paying a smuggler. It cost 300,000 Syrian pounds ($630) for eight of us to cross on a small boat to get to the camp.”
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*Name has been changed to protect identity.