Syria’s civil war is becoming intractable and more than 100,000 people have been killed in the violence. A terrible total of 1.8 million refugees have fled the fighting and are registered with the UN, and the same number are displaced internally or hiding in the countryside. So after two years of escalating violence, more than three million people are homeless, and 5,000 people are dying every month. These shocking numbers can only increase, as government forces and the many factions of the opposition forces battle it out to control more and more territory that they hope will give them a larger say in Syria’s future.
The Russians and Iranians are committed to arming the government, and the allies of the opposition are preparing to arm the opposition, although their strategic desire seems to be to achieve ‘balance’ in the fighting, rather than a rebel victory. This all points to endless violence and endless killing, as ever better armed forces battle each other out in a confused and destructive civil war. The number of dead will continue to grow and the number of refugees will expand exponentially as more and more people flee the fighting.
The humanitarian support for this vast avalanche of suffering humanity has been totally inadequate. Turkey and Jordan have shouldered the lion’s share with many other countries (including many Gulf states like the UAE) supporting them, as they have done in Lebanon and Iraq as well. The documenting of crimes against humanity is proving hard, as ruthless men on all sides fight for their political survival, but evidence is slowly growing of brutal massacres and regular crimes against humanity.
It is a deeply depressing fact that the world has closed its ears to the cries of the Syrian people, and accepted that the war will continue. The diplomatic focus on arming the combatants has distracted most countries and leaders from prioritising help for the victims and a more substantial humanitarian effort. But that callousness does not stop the millions of people in desperate trouble still needing help.