THE SIGHT OF a military rocket lodged in the pavement near St Stephen’s Green attracted plenty of curious passers-by in Dublin this morning.
Of course, it wasn’t a real rocket. The installation, constructed from salvaged material, was put in place by street artist Will St. Ledger on behalf of aid agency GOAL to mark the fifth anniversary of the Syrian crisis.
The first pro-democracy protests erupted in Syria in the southern city of Deraa in March of 2011, and the unrest has spiraled out of control in the following half-decade.
More than 270,000 people have died in the conflict.
In a stark report released this morning, UN agency UNICEF said that one in three Syrian children had known nothing but a lifetime of war.
“Our advocacy campaign is aimed at bringing home to people the reality of life in a war-torn country, in Syria,” GOAL CEO Barry Andrews told TheJournal.ie at the site of the installation this morning.
We don’t want people in ten years’ time saying ‘I wish I’d known then what I know now’ so we’re confronting people with the reality of what it might look like here today.
Andrews observed that people tended to be obsessed “with small things, with celebrity stuff” in their day-to-day lives.
Projects like today’s are aimed at informing opinion about the refugee crisis and about radicalism, he said, and would hopefully “start conversations that perhaps aren’t being had at this time”.
He believes there’s a massive appetite for “authentic genuine commentary” about Syria in the media, he said.
Andrews also noted that there was certainly “good news around at the moment” in terms of progress on ending the war.
While agreed ceasefires were by no means being “perfectly kept” he said that compared to other recent periods in the vicious conflict there was “definite progress”.
The latest talks to end the war opened in Geneva today, with the sides locked in an ongoing dispute over the future of President Bashar al-Assad.
A temporary ceasefire introduced on 27 February has largely held, despite accusations of violations from both sides, allowing aid to reach some 150,000 people living under siege.
GOAL has 380 Syrian staff working inside the country providing support in a range of areas: the charity’s operating a food voucher system to allow people buy their daily essentials, water remediation works are being carried out, and efforts are now being made to get businesses back up and running.
Groups were stopping to ask questions at the ‘rocket’ site this morning as TheJournal.ie visited; GOAL staff offered leaflets and information – and stark notices placed 25 metres from the installation told passers-by that they would have been killed instantly at that spot, had it been a real attack.