100,000 reasons for real action in Syria



Syria is the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Every day children are living through appalling devastation. Every hour 300 people flee their homes in fear. Every month 6,000 more people are killed.[1]

The United Nations now puts the death toll at well over 100,000.[2]

This Saturday marks the third anniversary of the crisis in Syria. Three years of appalling suffering. Three years of devastation, fear, death and displacement.

Starvation used as a weapon of war



Earlier this week Amnesty International released a groundbreaking report that tells a horror story of despair, starvation and death inflicted by the Syrian Government on its own people. It spotlights a place called Yarmouk, a Damascus suburb, where the Syrian army stopped the entry of all food, goods, and medical supplies eight months ago – with very limited exceptions.[3]

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Since then people have had no choice but to make do with anything they could find. Families have been forced to survive on cactus and dandelion leaves or other plants while risking getting shot by snipers when collecting them. When plants weren’t enough or people had allergic reactions to them, families had to resort to eating dogs and cats, risking food poisoning. Some people even drank dog milk.

Since July 2013, 128 people starved to death in Yarmouk and at least 60 per cent of those remaining are said to be suffering from malnutrition.

In case you missed that, we said starved to death. 128 people have died because they were denied food by their own government, their own people. That such a thing can take place today, in 2014, is beyond all comprehension. Syrian forces are committing war crimes by using the starvation of civilians as a weapon of war.

And the siege of Yarmouk is only one of many throughout Syria. Across the country, 250,000 Syrians are living in areas besieged mostly by government forces.There is now an estimated 6.5 million internally displaced within Syria and a further 4.1 million refugees who will need assistance by the end of 2014.

There is always hope.

In the midst of the conflict, Syrian mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, are protecting, healing, caring for their friends and family. Every day one woman risks her life to cross the conflict lines to keep a school running for Syrian children.

In February the UN Security Council passed resolution 2139 which, for the first time since the beginning of the crisis, addresses the humanitarian situation in the country. It calls on the parties to the conflict to immediately lift sieges of populated areas, end violations of human rights and international humanitarian law; and allow rapid and safe access for humanitarian agencies to reach people in need.[4]

As a result of these ongoing negotiations, humanitarian supplies were brought to Yarmouk and around 7,000 food parcels containing edibles to feed a family up to 10 days, were successfully delivered.

Despite this window of hope, much more is needed to bring this crisis under control and  end the death and despair for the people of Syria.

Stand With Syria!

Make this the last anniversary that Syrian children are displaced from shattered homes, forced to go without food or school; when families are torn apart.

Acting together we must inspire our leaders to have the same courage shown by millions of Syrian children, women, and men who are struggling each day to survive this crisis. There is hope. Show your support by joining the global vigil and shine a light in solidarity at any point between now and the anniversary this Saturday. Take part today >> www.with-syria.org

You can also join the Thunderclap. The aim is to generate 23 million tweets, the pre-war population of Syria. 130 aid organisations and NGOs are spreading the message and if we can reach that number, the Thunderclap image will appear on the electronic billboard in New York’s Times Square, not far from United Nations Headquarters, sending a powerful message to the global diplomatic community.


We must all act to make this the last anniversary marked with bloodshed. Will you join me this week to show those struggling to survive through this conflict that we are with them? Will you stand #WithSyria.

By Gabriela Vargas, Digital Communications Intern, Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand

[1] UNESCWA press release, 21st January, 2013

[2] BBC 25th July 2013

[3] Amnesty International Report, 10th March 2014

Image above: Residents wait to receive food aid distributed by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) at the besieged al-Yarmouk camp, south of Damascus on January 31, 2014. © unrwa.org

Image above right: Banksy recreated his iconic image of a little girl with a balloon ‘There is Always Hope’ to stand #WithSyria












  1. What is it that they are trying to achieve beyond informing the world that a civil conflict is extremely damaging on the lives of the people who are involved in it?

    Who exactly is this pressure going to influence – Assad, Russia, The West, the Syrian opposition?

    • World leaders have failed to listen to our facts and figures. Which is why global activism such as this – visual, relentless and in huge numbers – can impact against the most intransigent of governments. Our faces, our outrage, our hopes… Our aim of generating 23 million tweets – one for every single Syrian who used to live in pre-crises Syria – cannot be ignored. It will put backbone into the UN Security Council to address non-compliance of its February resolution 2139 – the first time it agreed to address the humanitarian situation in Syria.

      if we can reach 23 million, the Thunderclap image will appear on the electronic billboard in New York’s Times Square, not far from United Nations Headquarters, sending a powerful message to the global diplomatic community.

      It’s time they recognised that we the people have the power. But that’s a power that is reliant on all of us using it. If that’s by tweet then do it, if it’s by taking and sending a photo then do so. If that’s by emailing your MP or PM do that. Doing nothing is condemning Syria’s people to another year in hell.

      • The people have the power to do what exactly? I’m not sure what it is that is being attempted here.

  2. I don’t want to sound like Gosman or flippant but……had the UN and USA gone in like they wanted to, there would be dead Syrians not hungry ones. Would you worry then?
    The true political situation in Syria is one obscured by the western media to demonise Assad not unlike, um, Libya, Iraq and other such places. While sympathetic to the Syrian peoples plight, perhaps if all the outsiders went and left them to it, I would certainly stand with them.
    That the UN and Amnesty have reported badly mean nothing, considering they have been caught out before by their biases. As for the BBC, does it have any relevance?
    ARTO is quite correct- al qaeda mercenaries supported by whom? Democracy as applied by the “free” world….pass me a bucket.

    • Your comment doesn’t sound flippant; I don’t think anyone wanted another Vietnam/Iraq/Libya type escalation. What we do need though is for people, i.e. humans, to wake up, fasten their seat belts and start clicking away from x-factor, big brother, food porn, restoration porn, celebrity porn, etc. The picture captioned looks like the end of the world. The reports I have read document atrocities way beyond what this article details. All I can say is, there is a real inhumanity affecting our world. I applaud Banksy’s leadership in getting real & am reluctantly signing up for twitter, if only to make one tweet.

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