In the Shadow of COVID-19, Hunger and Syrian Crisis
Behind the infamous Covid-19, horrors keep happening no matter how forgotten they are
Coronavirus, Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2, so many names to talk about this deadly virus doing a world tour in people’s lungs. And that’s basically all we hear about (I mean, let the poor guy travel in peace without all those groupies desperately trying to find him).
Okay so there’s this going on, but there must be something else, right? Things don’t stop happening because we’re only paying attention to one global threat. But it is how we can feel at the moment. I was browsing through a news website and I had to scroll through 23 articles to find one not Covid-19 related.
It is true that things keep happening, smaller threats are still there, menacing and destroying the lives only of the few people concerned, far away from most of us. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want here to diminish the gravity of this virus, Covid-19 is a global pandemic and it has killed people, let’s not forget that (don’t touch your face, sneeze in your elbows and wash your hands guys, social distancing is the clue!).
In this article, my goal is to treat subjects that are forgotten by everyone, because of a social phenomenon called the “law of proximity”: the farther from us something is happening, the less concerned we feel.
What are hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes because of a 9-year-old war in Idlib, Syria, when we’re confined to our homes in Europe, South-East Asia or America because of a virus with 2 to 3.4% of mortality?[¹]
This is the main subject I want to treat: the humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib, last bastion of the rebel forces (including Al-Qaïda) in Syria, one of them being backed by Ankara, opposing the governmental forces of Bashar-al-Asad, who has Moscow and Tehran as his most precious ally.
Which led to about 500,000 deaths (this number is subject to numerous debates owing to the confusion of the conflict) since the beginning [²] and about a million people displaced in Idlib since May 2019. [³]
9 years ago, 15th of March 2011, during the Arab Spring, the Syrian people finally raised their voice against the totalitarian regime of Bashar-al-Asad, at first peacefully, and quickly, then in some zones of the country, it turned into armed fights. The Syrian dictator didn’t take his time to repress the opposition with Russia and Iran’s help.
From then on, it kept escalating, rebel groups formed themselves, chemical weapons were used, Al-Qaïda shoved its nose into the conflict, and imposed the harshest religious and martial laws with religious police, courts, by enrolling child soldiers and performing executions in the territory they controlled in Idlib.
In 2015, the war was all around the country, and many refugees, as well as rebels, fled to Idlib, because of its proximity to the Turkish border and the absence of Bashar-Al-Asad’s law, the region became the regime’s trash can.
There, today, we have a rebel’s and terrorist’s nest and millions of civilians stuck between two fronts. It is a complete and utter humanitarian disaster and has evolved so much since then, but now is only in Idlib, North-East Syria, on the Turkish border, where 3 million people live.
December 2019, the Syrian regime along with Russia reinforced its offence against the rebel forces of Idlib, completely disregarding the safety of his own people, bombing places with suspected rebel presence (which somehow includes hospitals [⁴]) and killing civilians. [⁵] As a result, a third of Idlib’s population was displaced, currently in refugee camps in northern Idlib, in Turquia, trying to cross the Schengen border or still on the roads.
The United Nations [³] has even qualified this as “the greatest history of humanitarian horror of the 21st century” (and let’s not forget that our century also includes the horrors lived by the Kurds, Rhohyngas and Uyghurs, with of course the repressions suffered by the Nicaraguans which led to over 300 deaths between 2018 and 2019). Today, ceasefires are in place, signed between Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan since the 5th of March.
However, recent events have shown us that, when Russia and Turkia are involved, there cannot be any durable peace [⁶] (They’re indeed frequently broken in Lybia, where the two countries oppose themselves supporting two different regimes in a civil war, as well as in Eastern Ukraine, where Russia is aiding independentist forces trying to break themselves from Kiev).
The situation is still quite fragile, but humanitarian aides are coming from Europe, directly to Syria, or to Turkia who has to face a migratory crisis with millions of Syrian refugees. Moreover, this tends to bring other problems. In February, Turkia completely opened its borders with the old continent to Syrian refugees for them to try for a new life up there.
This led to thousands of migrants being confronted to Greek coastguards who were ordered to stop them from coming, Greece is too economically fragile since 2008 to help all those people.
It is a very tense situation, between people risking their lives to find a better life and others trying to keep their country afloat. Fortunately, compromises have been made, and different European countries have agreed to welcome 1500 Syrian children on their soil, it’s not enough, but it’s something.
But why? Why did Ankara make this decision? It is to put pressure on the Europeans, President Erdogan judged that the aids sent by them weren’t enough to sustain the flow of refugees coming from Syria.
The most efficient way to get l monetary help according to him was then to make the European Union confront those migrants.[⁷] However, for most of them, the situation has not changed.