Manchester is asking for peace for Syria

Posted by Ali Sameer Regional Public Affairs Assistant - Oxfam North of England

9th Sep 2013

Sitting in the Imperial War Museum North last Wednesday evening, surrounded by exhibits and memorabilia from former world wars I couldn't help but wonder if we were on the brink of another.  It was a striking environment in which to listen to stories about what is going on within Syria and discuss what the future might hold not just for the Syrian people but for all of us.

Our first speaker was Elfatih Ibrahim from Human Appeal International who manages medical and food assistance programmes in Syria.  He quoted one refugee's words "if the world can see us, why don't they help us?"

Jane Beesley from Oxfam reading a poem written by a Syrian girl. Photos: Rizwan Hussein/ Human Appeal Intern.

Oxfam's Jane Beesley relayed a similar question from Reema, a 12 year old girl who fled her country witelayed a similar question from Reema, a 12 year old girl who fled her country with nothing but the clothes she was wearing and who only wants to go home and back to school which she misses so much.  "Is there anyone out there to hear me?" was her question to Jane who visited her and her family in Lebanon.  Smaller than Yorkshire, almost a quarter of Lebanon's population is now made up of refugees.  It has no refugee camps and Oxfam helps by providing money for rent for what meagre accommodation can be found.

Lebanon is smaller than Yorkshire, and now almost a quarter of its  population is made up of refugees.  Oxfam is helping by providing money for rent for what meagre accommodation Syrian refugees can find. h nothing but the clothes she was wearing and who only wants to go home and back to the school she misses so much.  "Is there anyone out there to hear me?" was her question to Jane who visited her and her family in Lebanon.  

Dr Mounir Hakimi, originally from Homs in Syria and a doctor at Royal Bolton Hospital spoke of the natural beauty and rich cultural heritage of Syria and how different the daily reality is now for everyone.  During a recent trip to oversee the work of the charity he co-founded, Syria Relief, he found himself 75 km from his parents' home, but couldn't travel to see them for fear of being killed or arrested.  

Dr. Hakimi from Syria Relief. Photos: Rizwan Hussein/ Human Appeal Intern.

He talked of trying to treat casualties with no medical equipment, no oxygen, no gloves and the psychological impact on an entire generation of children who have to suffer the daily trauma of war.  He talked about the places within Syria where organisations like the UN and charities can't reach and how the official casualties' figures can only be underestimates.

Matthew Norman and Rizwan Hussein, both recently returned from Syria exhibited their moving photographs of Syrian people and broadcaster Talat Farooq Awan from the BBC chaired the debate with discussion on every aspect of the conflict from chemical weapons to "how people cope."   

Oxfam is calling on Obama and Putin to put aside their differences and hold the long promised peace talks.  You can help by signing our petition or donating to our appeal.  

Blog post written by Ali Sameer

Regional Public Affairs Assistant - Oxfam North of England

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