Plight of civilian population in Syria


Sir, – Six years ago, on June 13th, 2012, I helped organise a presentation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs by a group of Syrians about large-scale civilian massacres being committed by the Assad regime with the death toll at that time “only” 20,000. All were Irish residents but were afraid to give their surnames because of fears the regime would take action against their families in Syria.

On Tuesday of this week with co-producer Anne Daly we screened our documentary Syria – The Impossible Revolution in the Oireachtas for TDs and Senators but the death toll now is well over 500,000 and still rising, leaving the chilling question: how did we let “never again” become “yet again?”

Indeed, as reports from Idlib and Eastern Ghouta of relentless bombing of civilians including attacks on hospitals, markets and residential areas once again reach a terrifying intensity former UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland has called the situation “doomsday for civilians.” At the same time the current UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Syria challenged the Assad regime directly in an unprecedented way, saying the organisation “cannot remain silent any longer” because of the “dramatic deterioration” in terms of escalating civilian suffering as starvation and death so common place.

The UN says the Assad regime for example in 2017 only allowed 27 per cent of all requests for aid deliveries to opposition held areas.

Meanwhile in Eastern Ghouta now, where 400,000 civilians are trapped and under siege since 2013, deliveries of food, water and medicine have not been allowed since last November.

All the time the merciless bombing of Idlib continues with Russian jets repeatedly targeting hospitals clearly aimed at causing the civilian population to flee, with Iranian ground forces backing Assad showing no mercy with at least 300,000 so far on the move again from an area so many went to in the first place to escape fighting elsewhere, and now forced to move on for the second, third or even fourth time. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 3.