Two recent media reports perfectly illustrate the living hell within which the people of Syria are trapped. A British surgeon, Dr David Nott, who spent five weeks working in a Syrian hospital, told journalists how snipers will sometimes amuse themselves by targeting pregnant women: shooting them in the stomach to try and kill their unborn children.
And, raising echoes of what people were reduced to in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II, around the same time it was reported that Muslim clerics had issued a fatwa allowing people in the Damascus area to eat cats and dogs to stave off starvation.
On numerous occasions in the past, most notably after the atrocities of the Nazis, the international community has solemnly declared: “Never again.” But time and again these have proven to be empty words (usually delivered by leaders who can think of nothing better to say in response to yet another instance of industrial-scale barbarism that was ignored). Syria is but the latest example of the world maintaining a studied indifference to the wholesale butchery of innocent people.
In less than three years, at least 100,000 people have been killed and countless others injured in Syria. The overwhelming majority of the casualties have been innocent civilians. Close to 7.5 million Syrian people - more than half of them children - are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance; 4.25 million have been displaced from their homes; and more than 2 million have fled to neighbouring countries as refugees. These [United Nations] figures – acknowledged by that body as conservative estimates - are being added to every day as the carnage continues, unchecked.
At least the world could plead ignorance where many previous atrocities were concerned, but the same defence cannot be mounted in respect of Syria. From its outset, every twist and turn of this conflict has been reported upon extensively on innumerable websites; and played out on our television screens and in the pages of our newspaper and magazines.
No one can ever pretend that they didn’t know what the people of Syria were being subjected to.
So much for ‘never again’.
Read about GOAL’s latest work in Syria