Lifted from aftenposten.no
As the horrors of the Syrian war continue unabated, leading Human Rights Activists question the lack of outrage and the lack of real action to end this senseless slaughter. This in a year where the UN is focusing all of its efforts on a Solidarity with Palestine campaign, yet they cannot bring themselves to something as simple as stopping the real blood shed.
In contrast to Norway, Israel – which is in a de facto state of war, a cold one albeit, but nevertheless a war – with Syria, offers humanitarian aid to their suffering neighbors, as well as providing state of the art medical assistance to any Syrian who comes to the border. Enhancing that contrast, it is very surprising that Dr. Gilbert sees no need in providing his medical assistance to Syrians, nor writing books about his experience, or calling for boycott, demonstrations, or any other engagement of that nature to help the Syrians. Nor have we had hysterical scenes where Norwegians have participated in tearful demonstrations, or ministers who have cheerfully demonstrated under banners calling for the murder of Jews or Members of Parliament dressing up as Syrians to spur colleagues into action. In fact, apart from some pretty words at the UN, pretty much nothing has been done to stop this madness.
I am sure I will offend many “humanitarian” workers with the following observation: The incessant, and wildly exaggerated claim that Israel is the biggest threat to world peace and if only they will back off, pack up and accept a life in exile, then the rest of the world will sort itself out has boomeranged.
Or, put differently: people are not stupid. They are fully capable of seeing through the lies that have been spun about the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They understand fully that the various peoples in the ME have been used as pawns in a very dirty game, one where humanitarian workers – such as Jan Egeland and other leaders of what once used to be highly respected human rights organizations – have put their political activism before their primary responsibility. International organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have squandered a lot of goodwill in their campaign against Israel, with the tragic outcome we can now witness in Syria: people suffer from disillusion. They don’t believe the humanitarian organizations and after seeing how the Arab Spring became the Arab Winter with Western politicians and humanitarian workers dragging their feet in condemning obvious and shocking attempts to impose Islamic rule, many people wrongfully think that Syrian, Libyans, Egyptians deserve their fate. Which is patently not true. They deserve our full attention every day, in particular in light of the unbearable suffering they have to endure. But you know how it is; if you cry wolf too many times, the one time there really is a wolf to worry about, nobody will believe you.
(poor google translate)
Why are we not upset ?
The Syria war is a return to the 1990s abuses in the Balkans and Central Africa – however without the corresponding level of engagement as in those days.
Jan Egeland , secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council
I was an aid worker in the darkest 1990s. At that time, both those who did and those civilians who got help systematically attacked , displaced or blocked by ruthless gunmen . Our only consolation was that power abuses and massacres in the Balkans and Central Africa led to a popular and political revolt against the abuses and human rights. Journalists were celebrities because they daily made headlines from the besieged Sarajevo .
Diplomats and politicians declared that ” never again ” would be a Rwanda or a new Srebrenica . I was naive enough to believe these statements .
Despite the small and large setbacks from Darfur to Iraq was also the world gradually improved . We saw how humanitarian aid reached more civilians on several front lines. Mortality in wars and disasters decreased , while the number of children who were vaccinated and given food and education increased in almost all countries. The number of conflicts declined and criminal and political violence affected an ever smaller percentage of the world population .
Then came the recession . And it happened in this changing of the guard . The war in Syria has been the story of how nearly one generation progress reset. We have seen a return to the 1990’s darkest periods. We are experiencing the worst war refugee catastrophe and assault wave in decades – and without the popular and political reconstruction people we saw in the 1990s .
We treat Syria’s torments as if it were an inevitable tsunami , and not as a man- made disaster .
Aid agencies have little money and attention from people – politicians are concerned , large and small here at home, and has delegated to the Secretary of State to deal with the biggest war in their own time.
Who would have thought , 20 years after Rwanda , it would be several million civilians in a war inferno in the heart of the Middle East without protection and with only occasional access to emergency ?
Who would have thought that the center of the Olympic Games in 2014 was a quarter of a million women , children and other civilians in besieged cities that actively and deliberately starved of violent men ?
Who would have thought that we would experience a war again with more civilian deaths fortnightly than the largest wars in general have in a year , and without a single military or political leader is held accountable for anything ?
Perhaps the most burning question of all is how governments , parliaments , public opinion and the news media to a small extent seem to be affected by the fact that we all are passive witnesses to accelerating abuse as all watched as intolerable in the 1990s ?
As an aid worker in 2014 , I have my share of responsibility . Many turns his back to Syria because we engaged in relief work which has failed to convey that this is not ” bad guys ” who were fighting against the ” bad guys “.
It is not the story of a brutal dictator who fought against Islamist terrorists. This is the story of many ruthless men with guns who is allowed to take on unimaginable many totally innocent civilians like you and me and the kids and the grandparents we know.
It is the story of ten million good civilians affected by the unbridled violence, while most of the world did little or nothing , and other parts of the world unhindered bar fuel to the fire .
When I visited Syria and Lebanon again in early February , I saw how local and international aid workers perform a dangerous , heroic and often life-saving work.
NRC alone has thousands of aid workers in Syria and neighboring countries and regularly provides assistance to over 600,000 refugees and displaced persons. With great awards from Norway and a half dozen other donor countries , we provide school and hope to tens of thousands of refugee children.
But without political negotiation solutions we hold primarily people living in temporary inside Syria , or waiting for them to take out of the safe, but passive life as a refugee in crowded camps and shacks in neighboring countries. All we are waiting for the diplomats to succeed .
Read also: We will not wake
The agreement on the evacuation of civilians from a besieged neighborhood in Homs and the agreement to extract chemical weapons from Syria shows that it is possible to negotiate an agreement and put pressure on the parties even in this brutal war.
But 99 percent of those who lost their lives in the war in Syria is not killed by chemical weapons. 99 percent of the civilians besieged and without access to humanitarian aid is not in Homs .
Therefore, the outside world gather to put much more pressure on the combatants in this conflict to get more agreements between the parties.
War is man-made and there will also be peace .
A first step would be to take away the fuel for continued war. The parties to the conflict have lacked weapons to attack or besiege civilians. The regime’s army and the most extreme opposition groups have had access to money , ammunition , weapons and other support from UN member states every month.
A divided Security Council members who support their respective parties to the conflict were the recipe of how decades of humanitarian progress could be reversed.
Only when Russia and Iran puts real pressure on their friends in the Syrian regime and a corresponding pressure placed on extremist armed opposition groups from the West and the Gulf States , we can see the beginning of the end of the atrocities.
But if we have a change in international politics , it must be a change in the attitude of this conflict from indifference to engagement and rebellion. It must be costs , both for the continuing violence , and those who stand for indifference.
There must be support for players who invest in peace and that adds actively put pressure on the regime in Damascus and the armed groups .
As early as in 1863 convinced the founder of the Red Cross, Henry Dunant , the world’s diplomats to adopt the first Geneva Convention that all the sick and wounded on the battlefield are entitled to medical lifesaving assistance.
Even this more than 150 years old advancement of international compassion has been reversed in Syria , where physicians are systematically denied access to the wounded .
How could we end up like this?