April 2017 Report: Lebanon-Syria
The war in Syria continues in its sixth year of violence, terror and repression to the detriment of the civilian population and its most vulnerable sectors. The month of April opened with the tragic news of the chemical weapon attack in the eastern province of Idlib, which is controlled by various groups of rebels with a strong radical Islamist component. The Syrian regime of Assad and the Russian allies are suspected to be responsible of the bombing as they are the only ones in the conflict to be able to perform large-scale air strikes. United Nations and the European Union recognized that there is strong evidence of a government responsibility in the massacre, which has taken away the life of eighty people, many of whom were children. Chemical weapons are not new in the Syrian conflict, as they have often been used to impose fear among civilians and to cover the advance of the ground troops. Other unconventional weapons used are phosphorus and chlorine. The US President, Donald Trump, declared himself “shocked” by the cruelty of the Syrian government and ordered the bombing of Sharaja air base, from where the aircrafts took off. Russian soldiers in the base were warned 90 minutes before the bombing. Russia and Iran condemned the attack.
A terrorist attack in mid-April struck a bus convoy that was evacuating refugees, largely Shiite, fleeing from Aleppo, according to an agreement between Assad and the rebels, under the supervision of Iran, Turkey and Qatar. The e
vacuation of citizens from two pro-governmental cities was planned as an exchange for the permission granted to rebels and their families to leave two cities North of Damascus to reach Idlib. The bombs caused 126 deaths and over a hundred injured among the displaced persons from Foua and Kafraya, as they were about to get on the buses.
While the military powers clash, the Syrian civil society continues in its attempt to re-establish the solidarity of Syria’s soul. At the end of the month at least eight volunteers of the so-called “White Helmets” were killed during an air bombing in the province of Hama, controlled by the rebels. Their job was to carry out relief operations and save the highest number of human lives. When there is a bombing, the White Helmets try to reach the spot as soon as possible, risking their own lives.
Sharing, Work and News on Volunteers
In the refugee camp of Tel Abbas, Operazione Colomba volunteers have been continuing sharing the daily life of people and accompanying them for medical or legal causes. Thanks to their advocacy mediation with the Lebanese Centre For Human Rights and the United Nations, some families were able to safely travel towards Europe, hopefully to start a new life in peace and dignity.
Accompaniment at various hospital have continued throughout northern Lebanon, paying particular attention to women, elderly and children. The pressure of volunteers on competent institutions was useful on many occasions to ensure that people were taken in charge to be treated.
A very important moment took place at the end of the month. Volunteers organized a meeting space, in videoconference, between the Syrian refugees which wrote the Appeal for Peace in Syria and a member of the Peace Community of San José in Colombia. Thanks to the translation of two volunteers, participants were able to discuss about humanitarian areas: how the Peace Community in Colombia was born, what the differences with the Syrian situation and what the similarities. This meeting was a further small step forward, possible thanks to Operazione Colomba volunteers, which helps to bring the voices of the victims of the conflict to be listen at the tables of peace talks and to urgently ask for the creation in Syria of Humanitarian Areas under civil administration with international protection. Places where life may finally start breathing again.