By Flor Castaneda
It’s your turn, Doctor! These words written by some teenagers on the walls of a school under the euphoria that the Arab Springs unleashed, was the beginning of one of the greatest humanitarian crises in all of History.
It is 10 years of a war in which foreign powers, terrorist groups and the government of Bashar Al-Ássad have systematically torn and destroyed the most valuable thing in millenary Syria, its people. This war has already tainted half the term of Assad, who has been in power for 20 years.
Until 2020, more than 387,118 people have died and 205,300 disappeared, 32 attacks with chemical weapons and more than 12 thousand dead children, this last decade sounds more like a genocide perpetrated by his own government.
Surviving extremist groups such as ISIS, chemical attacks and growing poverty, has triggered that almost half of the country’s population has fled, 6.7 million are internally displaced and another 5.6 million are abroad, the latter It has caused tensions in countries close to Syria such as Lebanon and Turkey and Islamophobia in Western countries.
Beyond the coldness of the numbers, there is the harsh reality of those who could not leave Syria and survive among ruins waiting for the days of peace, of those who had to sell their possessions to save themselves, ending up stuck in nearby countries where they have to beg for money or food without receiving any kind of help as they do not have refugee status, of children walking the streets of Tripoli in Lebanon selling cookies and prostituting themselves to locals and travelers to earn a living, of women who give birth in the worst conditions, of men who were not combatants but were wounded when trying to flee and cannot work to support their own.
One thing is real and obvious, the Syrian people with the bleeding wound of a decade of war led by the only dictator who survived the Arab Spring, hope to return to their land and rebuild it.
Syria sleeps scattered among tents while dying among ruins, famine and chemical weapons, Syria has a smile mixed with a lost look from longing for so much, from praying that perhaps one day the war will end.
All photos copyrighted ©Flor Castaneda