23 September 2014, Tuesday
THE SYRIAN WAR: INDIFFERENCE TO HUMAN SUFFERING
Over the last two years, Syrian suffering has been reduced to numbers and statistics. Just like the terrible loss and pain of Palestinians, Bosnians or Tutsis in Rwanda, they have become daily routine news stories and find a few lines on the front page depending on the agenda of the day
İbrahim Kalın, 23 September 2014, Tuesday
The bloody 3-year Syrian war has been many things – an unjust and ugly war, a power struggle, a failure of diplomacy, a lack of leadership, indecisiveness, refugees, destruction of a culture and tradition, sectarian tension, terrorism and more. But the most disturbing and shameful aspect of the war has been the high cost of human suffering that has gone beyond any other conflict in modern times. Both the rich and poor of the world alike fail to stop this human carnage. Besides politics and international relations, this is a shame for humanity in the 21st century.
Since the start of the conflict in early 2011, tens of thousands of Syrians have lost their lives, hundreds of thousands have been injured and millions have become refugees. According to U.N. estimates, more than 250,000 Syrians have been killed so far although nobody knows the exact number. This is such a bloody and massive war that no one is able to keep a record of the dead. It is a dreadfully low point when human beings cannot even bury their dead.
Over the last two years, Syrian suffering has been reduced to numbers and statistics. Just like the terrible loss and pain of Palestinians, Bosnians or Tutsis in Rwanda, they have become daily routine news stories and find a few lines on the front page depending on the agenda of the day. They enter and leave our radar screens but are hardly noticed as something that requires urgent attention here and now.
The results, according to estimates from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), are that more than 9 million Syrians have become internally displaced people in their homeland and refugees in the four major neighboring countries. An estimated 4 million Syrians have taken refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq with thousands fleeing to Egypt, Europe and the U.S. As of Sept. 22, Turkey alone is home to 1.5 million Syrian refugees in camps and cities across the country.
Since the beginning of the Syrian war, Turkey has followed an open-door policy for refugees. I remember the day when we were dreading that the number of refugees would soon reach 100,000 in Turkey alone. We had everything ready. We had increased our capacity to host any number of refugees as we had done in the past for Iraqi Kurds and others. But no one imagined being where we are today.
Over the last five days alone, Turkey accepted close to 150,000 Syrians, mostly Kurds, fleeing Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) terror in Kobani, Syria. They continue to flow into Turkey as I write. There is no way to return these people as they suffer the pain and agony of a brutal war unleashed upon them by both the Bashar Assad regime and ISIS terrorists. Their ethnicity, religion or sect does not matter. Turkey has never asked the ethnic or religious identity of any refugees seeking.