I’m revisiting Syria. But only in this blog post. I made that trip in April, six months ago. I wouldn’t be able to do it today.
There’s really no more crossing the borders into northern Syria for foreign journalists or aid workers these days. It’s just too dangerous, a risk to all of those involved that just cannot be justified. Kidnappings are rife in rebel held areas, led it seems by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Al Qaeda to you and me – a group that has grown increasingly powerful.
Charities making aid runs in are having staff abducted. According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) at least 17 foreign and 60 local journalists are still missing in Syria. On top of this 25 professional journalists and 70 “citizen” reporters are reported to have been killed.
Most of the abductions are not advertised, with aid groups and media organisations shy of publicity – it rarely helps get the hostage freed. Syrians involved in mediating releases say it has become harder and harder to get people out – extremist groups don’t want to play ball, and accuse foreign reporters and aid staff of spying, and even less radical factions see a foreigner as a way of raising much needed funding for their war effort.
So, I would not cross into Syria today.
Perhaps that adds to my sense that Syria, and the horror unfolding there every minute of every day, is sliding further away from our consciousness. It is certainly less prominent in the news – in part because of the risks to foreign journalists and in part because editors, and the public, seem to be tiring of yet another middle eastern war.
If you care to look, the news is still out there, in social channels, produced by courageous Syrians on the ground. That information flow makes it clear that the war is still raging. Make make no mistake about that; people are dying every day, the refugees are still leaving, civilians are shriveling up from hunger in besieged suburbs of Damascus. Things are getting worse and worse.
It is important not to forget this, not to allow the news that does escape Syria to become background noise. The needs are greater than ever. Especially as groups like MSF (Médecins Sans Frontieres) are still able to do real work. So far they have delivered 1,333 babies, performed 310,735 medical consultations and 4,091 surgeries in and around Syria since the conflict began. Against all odds they are getting things done. They deserve our support more than ever.
You are able to help. To save lives without risking your own. Roger Overall has made this easy by organising a print sale to raise money for Médecins sans Frontieres in Syria.
Thanks to @MCFontaine for compiling audio clips I recorded on my journey into Syria into this 29 minute summary:
Finally.. Here is the link to Roger Overall’s print sale.. http://thedigitalstoryteller.net/fundraising/fundraiser-syria-print-sale/