30 thoughts on “Honors World Regional Blog Assignment #3 Fall 2016

  1. According to the Economist, there are about 90,000 unaccompanied Syrian children seeking refuge. Turkey made an agreement with the European Union, which has made it more difficult for these children to cross the sea into Greece. The screening is now much more in-depth, and it usually occurs when they are in Turkey or Jordan. If these children to not find refuge many of these children turn to prostitution, and many of them kidnapped and sold as sexual slaves and ISIS fighters. Over the last two years, there have been about 10,000 Syrian children who have gone missing. It is very sad to think that most of their parents are dead.
    UNICEF is humanitarian aid for child in crisis has a website where people from all over the world can donate money to help the Syrian children. According to UNICEF, there are about 2.6 millions children, who have stopped attending school because of the crisis. And about 2.5 million children are living as refugees in countries around Syria or are running away from Syria. Many of these children are running to Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, and many other countries in Europe. These children are in need of water, health care, vaccinations, physical protection, emotional support, and clothing.
    In a recent report from the United Nations Human Rights, it expresses the hurt and devastation Syrian children have gone through, “Children are being killed and maimed. Airstrikes are hitting the few remaining hospitals.” Almost every single day we hear about how Syrian children are being killed and left to die because of the need the attacks made and because of the need of medical resources. On October 3, 2016, the UN Human Rights called on to Syria, Russia, and the int’l community to end this intense conflict. Chair of the UN committee on Right of the Children Benyam Dawit Mezmus says, “Syria and Russia have both ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child.” He also added that they approved the “optional protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict,” which meant that they would try to protect children in every environment they found themselves in. It also prohibited them to attack each other in locations where children would more then likely be, for example, places like schools, hospitals, and other areas. However, currently many places where children are found are being attacked. Five-year-olds are being found under rubble with bloody faces. Recently a video was released of a baby, who was found under rubble. The baby was tapped for two hours. The scene was so horrible that the paramedic cried while holding her/him. This destruction is happening all across Aleppo and Syria. Benyam Dawity Mezmus called on to Russian and Syrian governments to stop and help the conflict because too many of these innocent children are dying.
    These children are also made to fight. Many of them are captured in there own towns by ISIS and brainwashed to fight for them. Syrian children soldiers are being paid about $100 a month. ISIS has created camps to train the children they capture. According to AMN, Saudi cleric Abdullah al-Muhesini is the godfather of recruiting children soldiers in rebel-held territories. Many of the children do not understand what they are fight for; they do it out of fear and necessity. It is truly sad to hear and see how these innocent children die every day because of the conflict in the Middle East and how so many countries are unwilling to help.


  2. The images above capture what may go on to be one of the great tragedies of the 21st century: the Syrian Civil War. These images capture the essence of what it is that makes this a truly heart wrenching tragedy, the human cost that the people of Syria must pay.
    As in many wars, most coverage focuses on the fighting and international actions and responses rather than the people who have had their lives turned into a battle ground. While much of the world is concerned with what it is that Putin wants in Syria or what to do with the massive number of Syrian refugees, very few stop to think about the plight of the Syrian people still in Syria, people who just five years ago were living normal lives. While Syria in early 2011 was hardly perfect, the vast majority of Syrians were able to live a normal life in a relatively stable country. Then the Arab Spring began. The series of ever larger protests and ever larger and more brutal government crackdowns escalated into this current conflict that seem to become even more brutal and violent as time passes. Soon the conflict became sectarian, pitting the Alawite government against the Sunni opposition and extremist versus moderate within the opposition. Following the rise of Daesh in Iraq as well as Syria, the civil war drew in the Europeans, Americans, Turkish, and Russians, all seeking their own outcomes and adding more bombs and bullets to the mix. While all of these groups fight amongst themselves, thousands of innocent Syrians live and die in terror.
    While the suffering of the Syrian people is tragic, even more so is the suffering of the children of Syria. There are now five year olds in Syria that have lived their entire lives in a combat zone and the horrors that come with that environment. Young children in Syria, like the child in the top left image, know nothing of peace and only the struggle for power over their broken home. With all of the mass destruction caused by the fighting, many children live without basic amenities and some may have never experienced things like constant electricity and heating. Many now live like the two in the middle left image: basic, poverty level existence. Six years ago these kids would have been in school and be able to play in the street. Now, like the boy in the bottom left image, some patrol the streets they once played in as child soldiers pressed into fighting by one of the warring parties. Finally, and most tragically, many of Syria’s next generation have been killed by innumerable weapons of war that make no distinction between soldier and civilian, combatant and child. While men in palaces and in bunkers fight with words and bullets over a now desolated piece of land, parents like the men in the pictures to the right can only watch in anguish as the lives and futures of their children are snuffed out by the often indiscriminate bombing and gunfire.
    This is a tragedy of Syria, a generation denied a future and left only to be killed and scarred by a war they didn’t ask for.

  3. The Children of Syria
    It all started in March 2011 with public demonstrations against the president Bashar al-Assad from the citizens of Syria, and it eventually turned into a chaotic civil war with over 250,000 lives lost and with any single symptom of ending soon. Thus, the Question now is how/why this happened and who suffer the most in this civil war.
    Let us start from the beginning. When the movement of Arab spring started in 2007 in Tunisia, this movement was peaceful and with a not violent result. However, as people starting joining the demonstrations, it soon started to have some violent acts and even civil wars as a final result. These massive demonstrations extended to countries in the region like Algeria, Iraq, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Egypt, Libya and finally Syria. All that the people demanded was Freedom, free elections and the fulfillment of their civil rights.
    In Syria, these demonstrations went beyond of being a peaceful act of showing unhappiness against the rulers of the country. The statistics provided in class are that more than 4.5 million people have been displaced outside of the Syria and 6.5 million people internally. Currently, in Syria no only the rebels are fighting against the national army, there are other groups of fighters involved in this civil war. Countries like United States of America, France, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq are now involved in this armed conflict.
    Unarmed people (citizens) are the ones who are suffering the most especially kids, who do not have the maturity to understand what is going on and also do not know how to protect themselves in these dangerous situations. Referring to the pictures above, we can see how there are different situations in which kids are involved in the Syria civil war. First, the kids support their parents which mean that they and their entire family stay and fight either against the regime or pro the regime. When the entire family stays, they are all target for the enemies. Most of the kids lose their parents in the confrontations, so the kids are left behind to their own fortune. These abandoned kids are more susceptible to die for booming or hunger because they are not prepared to defend themselves or survive alone. In addition, these abandoned kids are either abuse from the people of the other side or force to fight for the people who took them. These infants do not have any idea what they are fighting for, but they basically are obliged to do it. As a final result, every day children die either from starvation or bullet wounds.
    Different groups and countries are currently involved in the Syria civil war, so the conflict does not seem to have an end. They are adding a new component to their supplies; chemical weapons. Many people have died as a result of the usage of these destructive weapons especially kids whom again are the most vulnerable group. Hopefully, this war will end soon and the true Arab Spring will come to Syria, so the Syrians will enjoy a better country where kids can be raised safely.

  4. The Syrian War began as a civil war between groups of people for or against President Assad. It started just as most fights and wars began, with people calling for change and beginning to protest. Peaceful protests never seem to end peacefully and the ones in Syria took the worst turn possible. There was never really a chance that these protests would stay nonviolent when there were many underlying tensions between different religious and political factions. After the first protests went sideways, the government reacted with violence to the protests, Syria quickly descended into a civil war. People began joining rebellion groups and started fighting to lessen the government’s control over the country. Within a year the two major cities, Damascus and Aleppo, were involved in the fighting as well. The reported death rates increase, almost exponentially, each year and even those numbers are likely very far from the actual death toll. There is no way to know an exact number when bombings and other attacks happen every day. One day may be quiet, normal, and then suddenly too quiet or filled with screams. Families are torn apart, some from losing loved ones to bombings and some that are pulled away and forced to fight.
    It’s been 5 years now since these attacks started and only recently has it started to ‘trend’ on Facebook on a regular basis, or so I’ve noticed. It is unthinkable to imagine how thousands of people may die at any point of any day. It does not really hit home or raise much concern for people outside of the conflict zone, such as those safely at home in the U.S. that are just concerned about which fast food restaurant they will be going to for dinner. Their next decisions aren’t influenced by anything but what they want or can afford, not whether they would even make it to their destination. There is no way to imagine having no safe place to go, no home sweet home for many families. The biggest way people are raising awareness about the Syrian crises is by sharing and posting videos of children being cared for after a bombing, videos that depict similar situations as the pictures above. The captions are horrific, meant to pull at your heart and make you understand that this is not something to be ignored. For some reason seeing how children are affected, injured, or killed gets people’s attention much more effectively than simply focusing on everyone and everything that is affected. And yet, many people still ignore what they see, or have no way to help the people of Syria except sharing these horrific pictures and videos until they reach someone who can help.
    The biggest question is why is this still going on? Why has no other country really stepped in and attempted to help Syria? There is no simple answer but one of the main reasons is politics. Any action to help the rebels is an action against the government and the factions supporting the government, and vice versa. For many Syrians it is not even possible to leave, many countries are not allowing refuges in because they cannot support more people or are afraid of allowing ‘terrorists’ in. The only way to help now is to go and help take care of the victims of these attacks but this is a choice that very, very few people can make. It is a choice that requires putting your life on the line, knowing that if you do ever return that life will never be the same. These people that go and try to help are not any safer than the people living in the country. Nothing is safe from attacks, not even hospitals anymore. There is a complete disregard for all the innocent lives.


  5. Since the Arab Spring demonstrations of March 2011, what Syria once was has now been destroyed. With more than 10,000 air strikes, the history, culture, and cities of the nation are being destroyed. Though organizations disagree on the actual death toll, it is largely believed to be between 400,000 and 500,000, with nearly 90,000 of those being women and children since the conflict started five years ago. On top of the staggering death toll, 10 million civilians have been displaced, 4 million of which have fled the country as refugees and now struggle in camps, most of which are in neighboring Turkey. Syria, now a failed state, is in turmoil and truly the women and children are suffering.
    According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, of the more than 4 million Syrian refugees, half of which are children. For these women and children, life has been changed and not for the better. They live in confined spaces, and often the children have to go to work to help support their families. Many have lost at least one, if not both, parents to the bombs going off every day in Syria. These orphans have nowhere to go, and though there are some systems in place such as Syrian Orphans Organization, and the UNICEF department specifically for Syrian orphans, many of them are just alone in the camps or abandoned still in Syria. Often the families in camps just live in tents, which provide little comfort in steadily colder winters, and they are surviving on a fraction of the income they used to have, with nearly two thirds of Syrians in refugee camps living below the poverty line according to the UNHCR. The living conditions in most of these refugee camps are abysmal, and the children are losing their childhood early having to stop going to school and work to support their families, sometimes as young as 10 or 12, and with sexual harassment and physical abuse common in the work place. The life of the children in these camps is gloomy at best, but it is looking up from where they were before.
    Compared to the children still in Syria though, the camps can seem as a blessing. Children and families as a whole who have not fled the fighting in Syria can welcome bombings as an everyday affair, with more than 12,000 air strikes having taken place in Iraq and Syria since the conflict started. Many children are losing parents, and being completely orphaned, and Daesh even has started recruiting child soldiers of the orphans it has made. Families throughout Syria are having to live in destitute poverty, faced everyday with the decision of whether to try to finally sleep, or to stay up and look out for any of the nearly half a dozen regimes currently fighting for control. Life is being taken away from these children, even if they haven’t actually been killed. Every day is a new territory for the children struggling to hold on to what they knew before in Syria, with some of the younger ones not ever knowing any other life as the conflict has gone on for five years now. Life in Syria is harder than ever before.
    For the children suffering from the conflict in Syria, life is not what it used to be. They have been forced into adulthood far too early, and have lost everything they knew. Steps are being taken to help them, but drastic change is needed to save them from the pain that is now sadly so common a sight.

  6. The tragedies of the Syrian Civil War began in 2011 when unrest started as Bashar al-Assad, part of the religious minority Awaite Shi’ite, took over the Presidency from his father. In March of 2011 demonstrations to loosen control of the single party states, the first of which occurred in Deraa, ended in a few arrests. Mass demonstrations happened in response to the arrests in July of that year which led to mass arrests and disappearances. In Damascus and Aleppo during 2012 armed rebellion as a result of the regime’s response eventually led to sectarian violence with Alaweit versus Sunni and even Moderate Sunni versus Extreme Sunni. Many Syrians died, disappeared, fled or were displaced from their homes, lives, and even their own country. Although many groups experienced extreme hardships during the Syrian Civil War, one of the groups that suffered the most were Syrian children.

    8.4 million children, approximately 80% of all children, have been affected by the war in Syria. Their normal daily lives became things of the past. Many have been injured or killed. Collapsing buildings that lacked proper reinforcement and had not been retrofitted to withstand the firepower that hit them, killing or burying people under the rubble. Children were not safe from being caught in crossfire, explosives, or aerial bombings that left children orphaned or families without their youngest members causing grief and heartache to all those left behind.

    Because of the violence, basic necessities became limited. Access to healthcare has been greatly diminished since the outbreak of war and proper treatment quickly became less and less available, especially in areas like Aleppo and Damascus where healthcare facilities and workers have been attacked, detained, or fled. Education became inaccessible for many children in Syria. Students were continuously dropping out and attendance rates were the extremely low. Merely going to school became dangerous in some areas. UNICEF verified nearly 1,500 grave violations against children in 2015; more than twenty percent of these were children being maimed or killed by explosive weapons while in school, on their way to school, or leaving from school.

    Children have continued to be recruited to fight. During the earlier years of the conflict, most of the children recruited were boys between 15 and 17 years old. Since 2014 all sides began to recruit kids as young seven. They went from acting in supportive roles away from the front lines to participating in combat, including maintaining weapons, running checkpoints, helping the wounded as well as being executioners, and snipers.

    Something that most do not realize is that those children born since the fighting began have known no life without violence. An estimated 3.7 million children, 1 in 3 of all Syrian children, have been born since the conflict started in 2011. Growing up in that kind of violent environment force children to grow up quickly. Survival is also not guaranteed; 7 million children live in poverty and have deprivation and tragedy as their norm. When the violence ends, the Syrian Civil War will undoubtedly have a lifelong effect on all the children that survive.



  7. These pictures capture the effects of the Syrian civil war. The civil war began in 2011 when police, under the command of president Bashar al-Assad, opened fire on civilians who were protesting the detainment and torture of teens who painted revolutionary slogans on school walls. These killings led to pro-democracy protests and the formation of rebel factions fighting the government. Later others saw opportunity and joined the fight, making this a multidimensional fight. The core conflict is between the rebel factions and the government, but there is also conflict between the country’s Sunni majority and the Shia Alawite Sect. Recently, the Islamic state has taken control of portions of the region as well.
    All of the fighting has left civilians with the option of staying and facing potential death, or leaving their home with nothing but uncertainty. Since the war started the UN has uncovered evidence of war crimes on all sides of the conflict. Murder, rape, kidnapping, chemical weapons, as well as using civilian non-access to food and water as a war tactic. The indiscriminate use of weapons has also led to countless civilian deaths. There have been 250,000 deaths, half of which are reported to be civilian. Over half of the countries 22 million pre-war population has been displaced, with 4.5 million having fled Syria and 6.5 million being internally displaced. Of those who remain in Syria 70% do not have access to clean drinking water, 1 in 3 people do not have their basic food needs met, and 4 in 5 live in poverty.
    Fleeing the country is no easy feat either. Many immigrants die fleeing the country. Others make it out only to be denied asylum in the host country, but desperation keeps civilians fleeing from Syria. It’s a mind set of “anything will be better than this”. Neighboring countries have the highest concentration of incoming refugees with 4.8 million having fled to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, and Iraq. One million refugees have requested asylum to Europe, with Germany and Sweden receiving the most at 300,000 and 100,000 refugees respectively.
    With the death and destruction come problems such as a large orphan population. These parentless children typically end up being kidnapped and sold as child sex slaves or captured by ISIS and forced to fight. These kidnapped children fight in order to survive and do not understand what they are fighting for. These children are also used as bargaining tools, for example the Islamic State released 15 children to the People’s Protection Units in exchange for the release of ISIS fighters. Other children meet a more terrible fate, being forced to commit acts of terrorism for the organization, including suicide bombings.
    Overall, the conflict in Syria has left many families broken and lost. As the conflict rages on civilians are stuck in the middle of a rock and a hard place. The decision to leave home and flee to another country could be just as dangerous as remaining in Syria with the instability of the region.

  8. The Syrian Civil War has left thousands dead and displaced, with an increasingly high number of civilian casualties. Under the regime of Bashar Al-Assad, civilians were becoming unhappy and expressing dissent for the government. After the Arab Spring in 2011, that dissent catapulted into civil war as rebel groups became more violent and the government’s attempts at dismantling them became more relentless. The conflict which has enveloped is multifaceted in nature: extremist and moderate views being radicalized against each other, the Alawaite government under Assad against the majority Sunni population, and dealing with the growing presence assembly of Daesh within the state. The war in Syria has created international conflict as well, with the United States largely supporting rebel groups and Russia primarily backing Bashar Al-Assad and his regime. There have been estimates of 400,000 people killed due to the conflict, 4.8 million displaced outside of Syria, and another 6.6 million displaced internally.

    While the refugee crisis has been a hot topic recently, after Brexit in the United Kingdom and the controversial presidential election cycle in the United States, many seem to be disconnected from the reality of the situation facing millions of innocent people in Syria, including children. Thousands of children have been killed, injured, orphaned, or made homeless as a result of the war. As in the pictures above, young children are seen dead in their fathers arms, at an age when they should be in primary school. Many basic public services have been stripped away from children such as these, due to the destruction of schools, hospitals, and housing also churches, community centers, parks, and more. Sometimes children are forced to fight, as Daesh has been able to recruit orphaned children that are not being protected by the state.
    Recently, international media was touched by a little boy named Omran, whose picture of him sitting on an ambulance after being plucked from the rubble in Aleppo surfaced the internet. However, these images are increasingly common, and there is no end in sight. It is troubling as an American citizen to watch the current political election cycle unfold. Neither the Democratic nor Republican party seems to be comprehending the damaging effects of the interventionist foreign policies toward the Middle East. It has been truly disheartening to see such a rise in xenophobia towards Muslims. Nonetheless, dealing with the refugee crisis has been more problematic and relevant for many European and other Middle Eastern countries. Several of the camps that these families are housed in are severely inadequate and underfunded.

    This young generation of Syrians cannot be expected to grow up without significant physical, mental, and emotional injuries. Many will not remember what life was like before the revolution and will inherent a damaged state that they will be expected to reassemble and restore. The Syria that they will inherent will be divided ideologically and culturally, damaged structurally and environmentally, and without clear guidance or order. Finding solutions to these problems will probably be very difficult, as the entire region has been largely destabilized.

  9. According to a Frontline article, more than 1 in 10 Syrians have been wounded or killed since the onset of the civil war that has besieged the country since 2011. The conflict’s longevity and highly violent nature can be attributed, at least in part, to the numerous and complex array of participating parties on the ground in Syria, as well as the deadlock between US and Russian interests in the country. I think it’s fair to say that relatively few Americans are aware of the ideological and political tenets or catalyzing factors responsible for engendering the conflict. Nevertheless, Americans are undoubtedly familiar with a select number of iconic images of the war that have pervaded the media in waves as American interest in the conflict ebbs and flows.

    The Baath party can be seen as a product of the power vacuum created when the French were finally forced out of Syria in 1946. France had granted themselves possession of Syria as part of the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, and did their best to exacerbate religious and political conflict among the disparate groups that comprise Syrian society. Syria endured a decade and a half long period of turmoil before the Baath party took hold of power. Baath Party principles include a one-party state led by a president, who functioned as a dictator in reality, the goal of creating a pan-Arab state, as well as a moderate form of socialism. Syria’s current dictator, Bashar Assad, inherited the presidency from his father, Hafez Assad, the Baath Party’s original president. Both Assad’s have ruled their country in a harshly repressive manner, allowing for very few personal or political freedoms. They are also at odds with the Sunni majority of their country in that they are members of the Alawite sect of Shia Islam.

    In 2011, protests of an act of political repression perpetrated by the government escalated into full blown civil war after the protesters armed themselves in response to government’s violence response to their peaceful protests. The encroachment of radical Muslim groups has added to the complexity of the conflict, as well as the death toll. Nearly all Western states, including the United States, condemn the acts of the Assad regime, which has heavily bombed civilian areas as well as lay siege to certain cities, allowing civilians to suffer starvation and horrific living conditions. Nonetheless, the fractured nature of the resistance groups and their ambiguous agendas has made it difficult for the international community to rally around one group as the legitimate alternative party. The international community nearly unanimously condemns radical Islam, its chief components being the Islamic State, whose jihadist and ultra-conservative principles have led them to commit shockingly violent acts against the Shia minority as well as other minorities, including Christians. The United States is extremely wary of becoming directly involved in the conflict given the legacy of their involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the increasingly worrisome involvement of Russia in support of the Assad regime and the current stalemate on the ground in Syria has created the need for the US to continue to revaluate their policies. The international community is struggling to aid Syria find an end to the violence because it is far from a black and white situation. Rather, the conflict in Syria is most accurately depicted by myriad shades of gray, accented with crimson.


  10. The recent happenings in Syria have created a lot of problems for the country’s government, other countries’ governments, all of their militaries, and all of their citizens. One group that is being heavily affected, and probably the most disturbing to see, is the children of Syria. Everyone remembers seeing the picture of the dad of an infant standing over his child’s dead body as it lay lifeless on the bank of a river. The deaths of these children and the problems the ones that are still living face both create disturbing scenes and future scenarios.

    Many children die from the bombs being dropped on Syria. One story comes from Aleppo. Ali Abuljud’s four children, wife, and father-in-law all died, along with the children’s mother, from a bomb. The children were aged seven, nine, eleven, and twelve. Ali prayed over their bodies with tears rushing down his face. This story reached world-wide news and showed everyone just how cruel the people were being treated in Syria. The pictures on the blog of the parents of dead children show how big of a problem this is and just what almost all of them go through. Since the war in Syria began, about fourteen thousand children have died, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    Another problem that a lot of the children are facing is that they aren’t receiving any education. About 2.7 million children have been registered as Syrian refugees. Eighty percent of them are not in school. One thirteen-year-old boy named Hamza is living in southern Turkey. “He can make four hundred shoes a day,” says his factory manager. About one third of this factory’s employees are kids and are being under paid. Surveys in this region say that the schools can only hold twenty-one thousand children, which is under a third of how many Syrian refugee children there are. Most of the others work. Kais al-Dairi, the director of the Syrian Relief Network, says that a lot of the kids in school leave early, saying that they have to support their families. The U.N. Children’s Agency says that the war reversed ten years of progress in education for these children. Dairi also says that the damages done to these kids are irreversible, and that we have lost a generation.

    The children are also suffering because of the poor living conditions. The camps that these children are living in lack sanitation. This leads to many diseases like cholera. Also, many of them suffer from malnutrition. The cold weather climate also increases the risk of them getting pneumonia. The picture on the blog of the two boys standing next to a stove, heating up their hands and wearing many layers of clothing, shows that the living conditions were horrible and that they were easily able to get cold. Many children have been affected by sexual abuse because they are living in heavily populated areas next to unfamiliar people. This causes the parents to think that they should arrange marriages for their children. The parents don’t want the children to be molested, and the parents can’t support them, so many of them “marry off” their daughters, some as young as thirteen.

    Bombing, loss of education, and poor living conditions have set this generation of Syrians back. There are 4.8 million refugees total, over half are children. This is too high of a number of suffering children. Organizations like UNICEF are trying to help these people, but as stated before, the children are already too damaged as a whole. It will be a long time before Syrians, whether they still live in Syria or not, recover. The world is doing everything it can to help.


    By: Jackson Allen

  11. Childhood and family life is such a formative part of one’s life, and I think that many if not most people are greatly influenced by what they experience as children. Our childhood experiences can shape our opinions, sensitivities, and actions. Unfortunately, many people experience horrible traumas as children and can be greatly scarred, physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. When someone is abused by a relative, a friend, or someone in a position of authority, the abuse seems even worse. It is betrayal. The present conflict in Syria is similar to this idea of betrayal and abuse. The Syrian government, the authoritative body that should act as a governing parent to the country, has not been the best toward its people, to put it lightly. The so-called “Islamic State,” which is made up of people who profess Islam, wreaks havoc on the people and the land in Syria in the name of its radical religious ideas. I am not a Muslim, nor a Syrian citizen, but it seems to me that such a level of violence and opposition going on between Syrian government Muslims, “Daesh” Muslims, and the various Muslims who are opposed to the Syrian government is damaging to the unity of the Muslim people and of the Syrian people. Not only do national ties not mean respect for the other group, but common (professed) religion does not even inhibit the violence. This adds the element of betrayal to the horrible tragedies.

    Like an abused child in a familial setting, the Syrian children who are surviving this conflict will probably be greatly affected not just now, but in the future as well. They put aside the mild role of a happy child and adapt in order to cope. The image of the boy with a rifle is horrible, both because of the grave damage he could do to others with it and because of the damage that could be done to him because of his using it. Someone’s child may be mowed down by gunfire because he is an enemy combatant who is a threat. Even if he does not die in battle, how is he going to put his assault rifle down at the end of the war and go back to the playground? Besides those who take up violence, some Syrian children are orphans, some have died themselves, and many have fled their homes and lived as immigrants, still in their crucial formative years. In place of my lollipop childhood memories of daycare, a plethora of Christmas presents, and relative comfort, the Syrian child may have border crossing, seeing family members die, and not knowing whether he/she would starve to death, get blown up, or remain a wandering immigrant forever. Many of them may not even remember much of peaceful life.

    As sad as this is, and as much as I wish for this conflict to be resolved, the end of the war in Syria will most likely not bring about the full resolution of their problems. Later, do we just expect them to grow up like everyone else and to become decent, “civilized” people who pay their taxes and act peacefully? They’ll surely obey the government, since government has been such a good source of stability and support for them. The fabric of normal life has been shredded in Syria by the monstrous amount of hate and destruction. Even if the war ends soon and the Syrians can return to their previous areas of residence, who is going to take care of all of the orphans? Who is going to rebuild entire cities? How will those devastated by the violence, destruction, and betrayal transition from warrior or civilian survivor to docile citizen? If another conflict appears within their proximity in the future, will they have learned from the previous mistakes, or will they commit atrocities in order to prevent atrocities similar to those from their childhood years?

    This class sometimes tempts me to despair when I see the crises that seem so difficult to prevent or assuage, but it also inspires me when I see pictures of people suffering or hear of people in need to get out and do something to fight it. If the world would take up love and sacrifice in place of its apathy and laziness and work together to end these horrible tragedies, we could do so much good. Children on the other side of the world might not have to witness scenes of carnage that would scar even the mind of an adult. This whole Syrian tragedy is important for humanity, and I wish it were more important to those who have the power to stop it.

    Jacob Fluech

  12. When looking at these pictures, it is east to view the suffering that the Syrian people have gone through during these years of unrest. These people in these photos as well as thousands of people who are not pictured have seen mass murder, bombings, and executions designed to intimidate them into following a regime they may or may not support. These Syrian rebels are being arrested, murdered and persecuted simply because they do not agree with their government’s practices. What started out as a simple protest against the government has escalated to the amount of destruction that no innocent person should ever have to encounter. It is interesting how comparable this conflict in Syria is to the Black Lives Matter movement that has been gaining popularity throughout the United States. Both of these movements are requesting a national change in behavior, they have elected to protest and demonstrate to achieve this change, and both have even seen violent outbreaks and have met opposition because of their ideas. However, there are profound differences between the two movements as well. The Black Lives Matter movement, for example, has gained nationwide attention due to the mass media outlets, but has not yet caused a civil war. The conflict in Syria however, has caused a dynamic and dangerous civil war.
    Although both movements started in different years (Syria in 2011, and the Black Lives Matter movement in 2013) there are remarkable similarities between the two movements. In Syria as well as in the United States there has been a call to action. Syrian citizens have called for democracy and increased freedoms for citizens. The supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement have called for increased respect for the black community in the United States. These movements began with what was perceived by their public as a wrongful action taken on a group of people. In Syria, as BBC described, it started in 2011 in the city of Deraa when teenagers were arrested and tortured for painting revolutionary slogans on a school wall. According to the New Yorker The Black Lives Matter movement began with public “distraught over George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin, in Sanford, Florida.” Although the Black Lives Matter movement started a little less violently, it still began with what was perceived by the public as a wrongful action. Throughout the years in both Syria as well as the United States, there have been protests and demonstrations, many of which have turned violent in recent years.
    Over the past few years both protests have turned more violent, however, in Syria this pro-democratic movement has begun a civil war. In the United States, there have been riots and protests, but this movement has not begun a civil war. Although with each passing event that occurs, the Black Lives Matter riots get more and more violent and so it is possible that a civil war could happen, however it has been three years and there has been no war. In Syria however, as BBC writes, “rebel brigades were formed to battle government forces for control of cities, towns and the countryside. Fighting reached the capital Damascus and second city of Aleppo in 2012.” As the pictures show, this violence has led to countless deaths, and even more relocations and people leaving the country to escape the violence. Unlike the Black Lives Matter movement, the conflict has escalated from a battle between those for or against President Assad. BBC writes that “it has acquired sectarian overtones, pitching the country’s Sunni majority against the president’s Shia Alawite sect, and drawn in regional and world powers. The rise of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) has added a further dimension.” The escalation of the fighting to include more than just those who support President Assad, and those who don’t is what has turned this fighting in Syria into a civil war. The Black Lives Matter movement has not escalated to that level and therefore has not caused a civil war.

  13. Children have always been unfortunate victims of conflict, especially in ones like Syria, as the above pictures show. In fact, according to Savethechildren.org, about half of the casualties in eastern Aleppo have been children. While not often directly targeted, their circumstances afford a unique type of tragedy. There’s the simple fact that they can be killed unintentionally, as collateral damage. This one, while sad, is true of every victim of war. But what makes children unique is their lack of self sufficiency, and their vulnerability both physically and, even more importantly, mentally. Even if a kid survives any physical harm, or avoids it completely, they can completely lose the ability to take care of themselves if their family dies, and even beyond that, this war has destroyed just about every institution in some parts of Syria. As a result kids lose access to education, limiting their options for the future, furthering their poor circumstances. And beyond that you could end up with almost an entire generation affected by the trauma of a brutal conflict waged around and in front of them. This can have a few consequences, as shown in the bottom left two images. As a result of orphaning, kids may have to scrounge to survive, and again, with the chaos and lack of infrastructure, orphanages or foster situations would be chaotic at best, non-existent at worst. If rebels are an option for a child to rejoin a sort of family, to have any structure or to even be a part of a community again, kids might just take the opportunity. These factors add to the importance of not just seeing an end to the conflict as resolving the situation. There are going to be vast amounts of kids who at the very least will benefit from some sort of counseling, some sort of therapy, and if that’s ignored, or simply impossible because of the state of infrastructure in Syria, it will be another tragedy in and of itself.

    Perhaps the only positive, if it can even be called that, is that these terrible images above might spur some to action, or at least change minds about Syrians as potential refugees. If the international community views the victims of the conflict as something other than opportunistic economic refugees, perhaps there would be more outreach. Hillary Clinton has referenced “that image of a Syrian boy in the back of an ambulance, blood dripping down his face” twice now in debates regarding the Syrian situation, an obvious appeal to get people to not look at potential refugees as radical Islamist terrorists (a laughable notion), but as people that could benefit from aid, whether it be taking in refugees or what have you. It’s a similar phenomenon to what you see in aid drives for Africa, give someone a visceral image, a small child with a distended belly and painfully skinny, a child being pulled from rubble, and maybe, just maybe people will be more aware of the dire nature of these situations.

    Savethechildren source: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/2016-09/children-make-approximately-half-casualties-eastern-aleppo-according-medics

  14. The images shown above are representative of a grave and horrific situation; the Syrian Civil War. Possibly the worst humanitarian crisis since the Holocaust, in the five years since the war began, it has resulted in an estimated 470,000 dead, more than 1 million injured, and driven 11.3 million from their homes. In this ongoing conflict, children are among the most vulnerable; experiencing bombing, facing starvation, and dying from preventable diseases due to a lack of proper medical care. According to UNOCHA, 8 in 10 children in Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance and 4 and 10 have been displaced from their homes.

    As Save the Children noted in a 2014 report, “It is not just the bullets and the shells that are killing and maiming children. They are also dying from the lack of basic medical care.” In war-torn Syria, countless hospitals and other medical facilities have been destroyed, routine vaccination services are not widely available. Because of that, deadly diseases like measles and meningitis are now back on the rise, and even polio, which was eradicated in Syria in 1995, is back, with up to 80,000 Syrian children in Syria now thought to be carriers. According to WHO, more than half the hospitals and public health centers – if not closed down – were only partially functioning due to a shortage of staff, medicines or structural damage, in 2015. According to Physicians for Human Rights, more than 15,000 of Syria’s 30,000 doctors have fled the country. Beyond that, the remaining medical staff and their patients regularly come under attack en route and inside hospitals.
    According to Save The Children, some aid groups even estimate that there are “only 35 doctors who remain in East portion of Aleppo — one for every 7,143 people. By comparison, in New York — which has the worst doctor-patient ratio of any American city — it is one for every 912 people.”

    The dire situation within Syria has led to a global migrant crisis. Syria, whose officially registered refugee population is over 4,810,216 people – is now the world’s biggest producer of both internally displaced people and refugees. Desperate to escape harm’s way, Syrians have been fleeing en masse to neighboring countries for years, where many underfunded, overcrowded, and ill-equipped camps have sprung up. These countries are struggling to provide proper shelter, resources and opportunities for the Syrians fleeing the war. Poverty is high, access to education is low, and many children are showing symptoms of psychological strain due to the traumas they’ve experienced. According to the Migration Policy Institute, “In one study in a Turkish refugee camp, more than 4 in 10 Syrian children showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder,” and in a camp of 8,360 Syrian Refugees, “a staggering 79 percent of the children had experienced someone in their family dying.”

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is closed off and corruption is almost ubiquitous. Enforced disappearances, unprovoked arrests, torture, and executions of those who oppose him are frequent. While accused by the West of numerous war crimes, humanitarian law violations, and crimes against humanity, the Syrian state has made it clear that they intend to win the civil war regardless of the casualties and destruction. Along with small grassroots efforts, global organizations like UNICEF have been on the ground since the Syrian conflict began, attempting to mobilize the largest humanitarian operation in history and trying to provide education, water, health care and immunizations, physical protection, psychological support and clothing to Syrian children both in Syria and in the countries taking refugees. Controversy has risen in Western Europe and North America over the rise of refugees, while most Syrian refugees remain in the Middle East in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt; only slightly more than 10 percent of the refugees have fled to Europe. According to UNICEF, 8.4 million children – more than 80 percent of the child population in Syria – have been affected by the conflict, either in Syria or as refugees in neighboring countries.


  15. Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, is home – or was home – to thousands of civilians who have been killed or relocated since 2011. Shelling, missiles, rockets… each day they wake up knowing they may be killed. Rebel forces have targeted every hospital except for one that is still left standing. Not only is there not enough medical resources or doctors for the people injured in Aleppo throughout the war, there especially is not room for those wounded now that most of their medical centers are in rumble. There is estimated to be 35 doctors left in Aleppo, which is 1 for thousands of people and with injury rates this high, those injured face not being able to receive the care they need.

    About 50% of Syrians have fled to other countries and the other half remaining are sitting ducks to bombs and missiles.

    Amongst the chaos in Syria are children of all ages. Children who have lived their entire lives during this war, children who cannot remember a time before Syria was in conflict and children who are still young but have to act as adults to the younger ones.

    In a video on Frontline, children stay in Aleppo despite the constant violence and risk of death to stay with their father and keep their family together. A young girl named Farah, even helps her father collect shrapnel so he can make bombs. The children of Syria aren’t naïve about what is going on in their country as a large portion of their lives have been during this violence. Many children try to stay hopeful and happy and go about their daily lives as best they can but with schools, hospitals, parks, playgrounds, stores, and every other area not being safe from bombing, it is hard to have a normal childhood. 1 out of every 3 children in Syria are killed walking to or from school (Children of Syria). There is nothing more disgusting than innocent children going to learn and being mass murdered. Not only is it outright wrong for innocents to be killed, young children who still have the desire and want to learn being brutally killed is unfathomable.

    8.4 million (nearly 80%) of Syria’s child population have been affected by the conflict over the past 5 years (Children of Syria). Some have been killed, others have fled, some are orphans, and some have even been recruited to fight. At the beginning of the war, it was only teenagers who would be able to fight, but now in 2016, young male children as young as seven years, are faced with the fear of being recruited by armed groups and will be taken without consent from his parents.

    On top of the violence children in Syria have to endure, they are also suffering from starvation, and disease. These children have done absolutely nothing to deserve all this heartbreak and destruction. Many will never see their homes again and many may never be reunited with their entire family again. They need out of Syria and need medical help desperately.

    Frontline Film



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