The military strike against the Syrian regime is almost a certainty. With Barack Obama receiving enough support from lawmakers to carry out his threats, the focus has shifted to the scale and duration of the strikes. But in the flurry and fury, it’s unfortunate that those who actually need help are forgotten: Syrians. As refugee camps overflow and tens of thousands flee the battlefront on a daily basis, there is no genuine effort to provide them succour, no efforts to find a lasting solution to the conflict, and no efforts to put the suffering of ordinary Syrians at the centre of any plan. At the end of the planned strikes, whenever it ends, Syria would be a bigger wreck.
According to the latest figures, more than 110,000 people have died in the conflict in Syria since March 2011. he Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the toll since the beginning of the 29-month uprising now stands at 110,371 people, with at least 40,146 civilians killed including nearly 4,000 women and more than 5,800 children.
On Tuesday the United Nations, declared Syria the 21st century’s worst crisis as the number of refugees passed the two million mark. The commissioner for refugees, António Guterres described it as a “disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history”. With the crisis still far away from a solution, the future looks horrifyingly bleaker.
Yet, pledges of funds seem reluctantly made. The war in Syria has just become a game of numbers. Even groups providing aid, such as the medical charity MSF, report a slow response. International agencies engaged in humanitarian activities are not showing the same interest they are known for during crises of this magnitude. And there is a general feeling of helplessness, a feeling that the inevitable cannot be averted. In other words, the crisis has become so complex that suggesting solutions would sound foolish.
While there is a paucity of aid, there is also problem in the disbursal of aid already available. Large amounts of aid are coming from Syria’s Arab neighbours, but because this is not integrated into the wider relief effort, it is hard to co-ordinate efforts. There are several gaps and wasteful duplications.
The talk about Syria needs to shift from war to helping Syrians and providing aid. Even f there is no international consensus on overthrowing Bashar Al Assad, countries need to arrive at a consensus on helping the victims of this war. The UN and humanitarian groups must shed their lethargy and speak more forcefully.•