Suffering of Syrian children soars as war goes into its 4th year

2014-03-14 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) This week marked the 3rd anniversary of the start of the armed conflict in Syria. Thousands of people across the world stood together in a global vigil on Wednesday to mark the anniversary, while Syrian voices joined a coalition of over 100 humanitarian and human rights groups to launch a pledge for world leaders to commit to making this the last anniversary marked by bloodshed. The campaign also calls for urgent action to ensure Syrians in need can access humanitarian aid. The charity, Christian Aid, is one of the organizations that joined the call. Janet Symes, Head of Christian Aid’s Middle East team says ordinary Syrian civilians, especially children, are suffering terribly. She spoke to Linda Bordoni.

Listen to the full interview with Janet Symes of Christian Aid:

Symes says that as the conflict in Syria goes into its 4th year, the numbers of civilians, especially children, impacted by the war is soaring. According to the latest figures, there are “5.5 million Syrian children currently in need of humanitarian assistance and this figure has doubled in the past year.”

Asked about the issue of humanitarian access, Symes concedes that this is “a major issue” as an estimated “quarter of a million people are living in besieged areas” where they are unable to access desperately-needed humanitarian assistance and often that access is being deliberately denied to civilians. “It’s “very, very distressing to see the withholding of humanitarian assistance being used as a weapon of war and that’s completely unacceptable.”

Symes praises the role being played by many Syrian people who “are trying to promote a peaceful process” within Syria such as “faith leaders who are “trying to get local cease-fires” or help secure the release of political detainees. Finally, she says it’s important for the population to know that there are many people around the world who are “standing side-by-side with Syria.”