For centuries, the United States opened its arms to refugees whose lives had been torn apart by war, and those ruthlessly hounded because of who they are or what they believe in. But today, the people of Syria are suffering these hardships on an unimaginable scale, and we’re still waiting for US leadership on the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time.
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By Gauri van Gulik, Deputy Europe Director at Amnesty International
A solemn moment of silence. The world over, this is the traditional response when lives are cut short by tragedy.
It has also been a common response to tragedies in Europe and off its shores which have ended the lives of thousands of refugees and migrants. Not killed by bombs in Syria, but killed while making terrifying journeys in search of safety and better lives in Europe.
But the scale and rapid succession of these tragedies calls for breaking the silence.
In the space of a week, along with people across the world, I recoiled in horror as four new tragedies added to a growing list of events that have already brought a record number of refugees and migrants to untimely deaths this year. According to UNHCR, 2,500 have already perished en route to Europe since 1 January 2015. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Giorgos Kosmopoulos, Director of Amnesty International Greece
The view was staggering upon my arrival in the village of Idomeni, near Greece’s border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Macedonia).
Up to 4,000 refugees, many of them from Syria including many families with children, were trapped after Macedonia’s government designated the southern border just outside the town of Gevgelija a “crisis area”, closing the border crossing and bringing in military backup. The refugees were all trying to pass through Macedonia on their way to northern European countries. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Abd al-Rahman Hamada, Hussein Gharir, Mazen Darwish, Hani al-Zitani and Mansour al-Omari
From a country where there is little reason to celebrate, here is some good news: Amnesty International learned Monday that Syrian human rights activist Mazen Darwish, who had been jailed by the Assad government on trumped-up terrorism charges, has been released. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Since 2011, more than half of the Syrian population has been on the run, fleeing their homes to escape war crimes and human rights abuses by both the Assad regime and armed opposition groups such as the Islamic State.
But the more than 4 million Syrian refugees can no longer escape the threat from another source: the neglect of world leaders that is condemning them to a life of misery and danger. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Photo: Ricardo Garcia Vilanova/AFP/Getty Images)
The lights are going out in Syria.
As the humanitarian crisis in Syria worsens, the darkness is literally spreading. More than 80 percent of lights have gone out across Syria since March 2011; in Aleppo, site of fighting for more than two years, 97 percent of lights are not working.
If you want to understand what that means, listen to this description from a Syrian surgeon in Aleppo:
“Marwan was on the operating table when the lights blinked and fizzed out,” the doctor said. “The nurse pulled her mobile phone from her pocket – generating the only light in the pitch-black basement. Others followed suit, producing just enough light to allow me to finish repairing his broken little body.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
What happens when a crisis so prolongs that the world tires of it?
You get 3.7 million Syrian refugees.
You get stories like the one told by this woman living in a refugee camps. She has been in a Lebanese camp for three years with her two sons, one of whom is autistic. She has necessities, but little else; what she dreams of is that her children get an education. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Munira al-Hamwi, mother of ‘disappeared’ Syrian human rights attorney Razan Zaitouneh
They asked me to write about my daughter, Razan Zaitouneh. I am not a journalist or a writer but I will write what is on my mind. I will not talk about Razan’s work or her achievements as so many others have done so already.
I will never forget those times at the start of the uprising in Syria when she faded out of the public eye in order to avoid arrest. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Artwork by Shirmeen, aged 16, niece of disappeared Faisal Faraz, who was apprehended during a bus journey to Peshawar in Pakistan in July 2005. Several other persons who had been subjected to enforced disappearances testified to seeing them in detention but state officials denied their detention and any knowledge about their whereabouts.
“A mother’s broken heart keeps waiting to know something about her only son, whom she has not seen for 670 days. A new hope is born on every sunrise to see Dr Mohamed Arab once again with us.”
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James Foley once said he reported from the Middle East because, “We’re not close enough to it. And if reporters, if we don’t try to get really close to what these guys – men, women, American [soldiers] … are experiencing, we don’t understand the world” (Photo Credit: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images).
After three years of the Syrian uprising, it often appears like the world is tuning out. Deaths continue on a daily basis, some 9 million Syrians are listed by the U.N. as either refugees or internally displaced
people, but the situation is sliding out of attention on news broadcasts, in newspaper headlines and popular attention
This is why the beheading of reporter James Foley is so important to anyone concerned about human rights in the region. It’s important not just because, as Amnesty International says, it is “a war crime,” but because Syria right now by most standards is now the most dangerous place in the world for journalists.
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