• It's time we talk about Syria

    Posted by Phil

    17 March, 2014

    If there is one thing you read about this week it should be the crisis in and around Syria. Forget what you think you know. It’s time you heard the untold story.

    This is a story about the peaceful majority in Syria, not the violent minority. This is a story about Syrian people who have never touched a gun or weapon of any type. This is a story about mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and grandparents.

    Syria has become the most significant humanitarian crisis of our generation.

    There are almost ten million Syrians who have been displaced, including over two million refugees who have fled the country. In the modern era there has never been a time when over half a country has been forced from their homes. Photo courtesy of World Vision AustraliaPhoto courtesy of World Vision Australia

    Just imagine, the entire population of Sydney and Melbourne being forced to flee their homes from violent conflict. Imagine those people wandering along bomb laden highways and across harsh deserts in search of safety for themselves and their families.  It is difficult to fathom, but this is exactly what is happening in and around Syria.

    Syrians are fleeing for good reason. Inside Syria the scale of the brutality everyday people have faced is near unprecedented.

    Communities have faced indiscriminate bombing of their homes, schools, parks and shops. There are reports of the terrifying torture of women and children. The conflict has been so debilitating that we are now witnessing the reappearance of medieval diseases like polio.

    Unfortunately to date most of the media coverage has been focused on the politics and the fighting, but not the suffering of a largely innocent population. Syrian people are confused and bewildered. They feel like the world has forgotten them.

    What are we doing about it?

    Current humanitarian commitments fall far short of what is needed. The world needs to urgently contribute more to assist the innocent people who have been displaced by this crisis. Families that have fled the conflict need food, water and shelter. Children who have been out of school for years now need the opportunity to continue their education. To feel some hope in what seems like a hopeless situation.

    In Australia we need to hear these voices from Syria. We are currently not giving anywhere near our fair share of much needed assistance. At a recent summit our government committed to contribute around 10m AUD for 2014 to this crisis.That’s less than a dollar per person impacted by the disaster. It’s surprising that Australia is falling behind as we have normally been a leader in helping our fellow humanity in times of need. There is no doubt that we can afford to give more.

    In Australia we need to hear the voices of Syrians. We need to listen to their stories of suffering and struggle. The same heart beats in each of us and all of us and we can make a contribution to relieve the suffering of this community of people.

    What can I do?

    Click here to email your Member of Parliament and urge them to take action on the Syria Crisis.

    Tweet the following message to our Prime Minister: "@TonyAbbott, I'm standing #withsyria – what’s Australia’s next step to help address the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time?"


    Phil Ireland is the Australia Campaign Director for the Syria Campaign and has previously worked  with TEAR Australia and Oxfam.