Aleppo – ‘One Giant Graveyard’

‘One giant graveyard’ is how United Nations Humanitarian Chief, Stephen O’Brien, recently described the situation in Syria’s eastern Aleppo.

This statement was released during an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday of this week, following the dire humanitarian situation that is occurring in the city of Aleppo.

A situation that, in five years has rapidly deteriorated across Syria, whilst the world has seemingly been bystanders in the worst humanitarian crisis to strike the modern world.

The civil war that is ravaging the state of Syria and its people, has often been labeled a proxy war. The involvement of Western countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, Australia, and Turkey has notably contributed to the lengthy and devastating war, as external interests and territorial boundaries play key factors for leaders.

Although noted by the United Nations too often, the humanitarian crisis that has evolved from this battle is one of the worst the world has seen.

The Guardian has reported that since Saturday, 25,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in Eastern Aleppo, and more than half were children. Those currently fleeing are now being faced with heightened dangers as rebel factions have attempted to stop those who are fleeing from leaving, with reports that individuals are being seized and disappearing at government checkpoints.

Despite this, the safety and rights of the Syrian citizens have been at the forefront of delegations and peace talks for the past five and a half years. Yet, it is the influence and involvement of the world’s two largest powers, Russia (supporting al-Assad) and the US (supporting the Free Syrian Army and Federation of North Syria) that has contributed to disrupted peace talks and broken ceasefires.

Most recently, Turkey’s strained ties with the U.S. and  renewed partnership with Russia, Assad’s main ally, and a growing fear of Kurdish militia fighters in the region, saw its support for Syrian rebels dwindle. Ultimately, its own vested interests took centre stage in its involvement, with Ankara leading numerous offensives directed at Kurdish militia forces, such as the YPG, in an effort to push forces back and reduce chances of their influence among Turkish Kurds.

Civilians, in the scheme of Syria, have often been the pawn for peace talks, but are pushed to the side when these powers’ interests are not being met.

With so many countries involved in such a horrific war, that is clearly directed at civilians, a peace solution is becoming increasingly grim. As countries have growingly invested their own interests and ideas in a country that is extremely vulnerable, help has only reached the country in the form of military intervention.

Yet, the evidence is strongly proving that Syria is the world’s foremost example that military intervention is not the answer to peace.

Therefore, it is imperative that Syria is made one of the first prominent examples in the world, to prove that non-violent measures can be taken to achieve peace. As all members have recognized that the insurmountable number of civilian deaths, as well as the number of individuals who have been displaced, is an absolute catastrophe, it is time that individual interests take the back seat and civilians are at the forefront of this almost six-year war.

After all, there can be no state without its civilians.

Tamara Bilic