The Syrian Civil War Goes Unnoticed
In Canada, we have the luxury to raise our children in a safe environment, and I believe our generation takes this for granted. Generally speaking, our worries include things like arranging play dates, deciding what outfit our children should wear, what sports activity to enrol in, and with the upcoming school year in such close proximity, what we should pack in their lunches. There is no need to worry about our children getting to school safely, whether our house will remain safe to live in, or whether we will be able to make it to the hospital to deliver our unborn child without being blown-up en route. In comparison to those being affected by the Syrian civil war, the things which absorb our day-to-day lives are mundane.
And in the eyes of a Syrian refugee, completely and utterly beautiful.
A bad day for us is a toddler that refuses to nap or a preschooler that has spilled milk not once or twice but three times during meals. A house in disarray. A common cold or stomach bug. A lost pet to look for only to find hours later.
First world problems.
And sure, we have always known that we are lucky, growing up in a stable country with natural resources at hand and a thriving economy. We have been told this throughout our childhood, and we take time one day each year to remember our ancestors who have fought in wars to protect our country.
But there is something terribly wrong going on in our country right now as well.
Because the Syrian civil war does not directly affect European, American or Canadian citizens, it has in turn gone almost completely unnoticed. Besides the riotous uproar after the Canadian government made a decision to allow a considerable number of Syrian refugees into our country, people throwing a fit that we might use our hard-earned tax dollars to support desperate refugees living in a war-torn country, news channels and neighbours alike have been silent on the matter. More than 250 000 Syrians have lost their lives and more than 11 million are homeless since the beginning of their civil war five years ago.
But that’s not our problem, is it?
The Cost of the Syrian Civil War So Far
Omran, the Boy Who Represents the Devastation of the Syrian Civil War
Overall, the western world has not been involved or aware of the civil war in Syria, and the tragic death toll it has had so far.
That is, until the following video struck social media, crashing down on our first world problems and opening the doors for a flood of tears, outcries and anger. To watch this five-year-old boy Omran, sitting motionless and covered in soot and blood, is absolutely heartbreaking. It took emergency workers five hours to get him out of his building after an air raid on his neighbourhood, and he didn’t even cry.
This child is innocent.
And he’s not the only one.
The journalist that photographed the event, didn’t think that it had the possibility of going viral. After all, it’s been five years and there has barely been any interest about Syria from the general public. This article in the New York Times shows us that Omran’s case is actually not special at all in this war-torn country. There are thousands of other children, many with far worse outcomes, that are trying to survive this Syrian civil war.
Praying that it will all be over soon.
One way or another.
The Mom and Baby Who Beat the Odds
The next video, which has also gone viral with almost 31 million views, also shows the western world how truly dire the situation is in Syria. A pregnant woman must now fight for her own life and undergo an emergency cesarean section to try to save the life of her unborn baby as she was caught in an air strike on the way to the hospital in labour. You will be happy to know that both mom and baby survive against all odds, but this video is extremely distressing to say the least.
(caution: sensitive material)
As a labour & delivery nurse, this video is very difficult for me to watch, and I will admit to crying at the end of it.
While their practices appear very rudimentary, their procedures not following national guidelines and their environment definitely not sterile, what scares me the most is the fact that there is absolutely no sense of urgency from the doctors. I know what it is like to be in an emergent situation with a mom and baby. There would be a team working at lightening speed: A nurse starting a large-bore IV, an anaesthetist intubating and providing general anaesthetic, a surgeon marking the site and a NICU team awaiting baby.
But these doctors don’t have the luxury of a clean environment or sterile supplies, let alone an obstetrician trained to perform cesareans.
The reason for their indifference is not due to their lack of heart. Afterall, there they are, labouring day after day, trying to save as many innocent lives as possible within that hopeless, unending, way of life. They appeared to have steeled themselves to the circumstance in the video because it is no different from any other case they had received that day.
Thousands of Syrian lives have been lost in five years, and I can only imagine the nightmares these doctors and nurses have had to endure day after day.
It’s Not Too Late to Make a Difference
Although I am extremely saddened that it has taken five years, 250 000 lives and two viral videos to call attention to the crisis in Syria and the suffering of our fellow people, I am also thankful. More and more people in first world countries are being called to attention to the impact that the Syrian civil war has had on the innocent.
We can still make a difference.
There is still time to do the right thing.