ShelterBox operations coordinator Phil Duloy is in Beirut, Lebanon meeting with partners and checking on aid distributions. Here he discusses ‘war fatigue’.
Three days ago the United Nations (UN) released a statement to the effect that the chemical weapons attacks against Eastern Ghouta and two other Syrian cities last year were almost certainly the work of Syrian Regime forces. If you remember the news at the time, the USA and France were on the brink of launching a bilateral military campaign, but in the face of mounting criticism decided to wait for confirmation that it really was the Regime that was guilty of crossing this ‘red line’.
Perhaps horror is interesting only when it is new. The dearth of western news coverage of the French and American governments’ (non)reaction to the UN statement over the last 72 hours isn’t because there were no enormous explosions, as usual there were plenty. And it isn’t just because the people trying to cover the horrors keep getting kidnapped and killed – Syria being ranked as the world’s single most dangerous place for journalists. There are many Syrian and international journalists still risking their lives and doing their best to provide material that media outlets could in principle use to cover the conflict.
The paucity of coverage given to the UN statement is largely due to ‘war fatigue’ on Syria. With so many failed Geneva Conferences and such an underfunded humanitarian intervention, it’s hard to believe that the situation is anything but hopeless. People experience war fatigue if the war gets old and doesn’t seem to change. But in fact the war in Syria is changing, fast, for the worse. In the last year, the number of people who have fled starvation, fear and death has more than trebled: UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) stats show that on March 9 2013 there were 834,567 refugees. Six days ago there were 2,544,477 and they might well be considered luckier than the families and friends they left behind.
If you are interested in Syria, you can make a difference. Contribute to the humanitarian organisations that are working to help the individuals suffering through no fault of their own.