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Spare a thought for Aleppo

GUESTXCOLUMNWhile many of us are glued to our televisions in the safety of our homes celebrating the successes of our athletes at the Rio Olympics, darkness and terror reigned in a world not that far away where there is nothing to smile about.

The haunting picture of a young bloodied Syrian boy rescued from a partially destroyed building in Aleppo has disturbed many of us. The image of the dazed looking boy, covered from head to toe in dust, has been etched in our memories and will be with us for a long time.

Disturbingly, five year old Omran Daqneesh has become the face of the suffering in Aleppo. The besieged city has more than two million people living there. The Syrian war has gone on now for over five years and yet there is no end in sight.

The United Nations (UN) has been unable to get both sides of the conflict to commit in guaranteeing safe passage for convoys with food and medicine to reach those who are suffering in a conflict which has displaced millions of Syrians and contributed immensely to the international refugee crisis.

The flouting of the rules of the Geneva Conventions by all the warring parties is as inhumane as the death and destruction caused by the civil war in Syria. The Geneva Conventions constitute a body of public international law, also known as the Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflicts. Its purpose is to provide minimum protection, standards of humane treatment and fundamental guarantees of respect to individuals who become victims of armed conflicts.

It is rather disturbing that despite the many wars the world has witnessed, we have not yet learned the lessons from armed conflicts. It is unfortunate that grown men, many of whom are referred to as global statesmen, have allowed their egos and pride to get in the way of a solution for the humanitarian crisis.

Women and children are more at risk and vulnerable in times of war. Sadly, only a few days ago, a hospital operated by the Doctors Without Borders in Northern Yemen, was bombed by a Saudi Arabia coalition, killing a number of children.

The United Nations certainly has its hands full as wars and rumours of wars are all across the planet. These international conflicts have frustrated the United Nations’ efforts to fulfill its humanitarian mandate while the images of the dying and injured continue to affect our psyche.

It is obvious that diplomacy has failed to bring to an end the hostilities in Syria and elsewhere. The world today is very much interconnected and what happens in one part of the world will ultimately have consequences for people thousands of miles away.

What will it take to stir the collective consciousness of our global leaders into action? What will it take for the world to wake up and say enough is enough? Who will speak for the voiceless and most vulnerable?

In the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower, every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.       

(Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.


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