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Dublin: 4 °C Saturday 17 March, 2018

'We spoke on the phone to people in Eastern Ghouta who said: 'We are dying''

Displaced Syrians living in Ireland are calling for more action to be taken to stop ongoing conflict in their home country.


DISPLACED SYRIANS LIVING in Ireland have called for action as the humanitarian situation in area of East Ghouta continues to deteriorate.

At least 68 civilians were killed yesterday, a monitor said, under attacks from Russia-backed regime forces.

Dozens of United Nations trucks reached the main town of Douma but they were forced to leave the town due to heavy shelling before delivering aid.

It is the last major rebel-held enclave, and hundreds have been killed – one monitor believes 760 civilians including 170 children – and residential areas devastated since attacks began last month.

The UN Human Rights Council has ordered investigators to examine the latest violence and condemned “the indiscriminate use of heavy weapons and aerial bombardments against civilians, and the alleged use of chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta”.

SYRIA-CONFLICT Smoke rises from buildings in the village of Utaya, Eastern Ghouta. Source: AFP/Getty Images

The Irish Syria Solidarity Movement and the Irish Anti-War Movement, along with Independents4Change TD Joan Collins, Senator Ivana Bacik, and Ibrahim Halawa, joined forces today in Dublin and called for action and more public recognition of the situation in Syria.

They were joined by two displaced Syrians, now living in Ireland, with first-hand experience of regime attacks.

Raken – who declined to given his last name from fear of attacks on his family still in Syria – said many of his relatives have died in the conflict.

“We are just here to have a word, to deliver the humanitarian message,” he said,

They need our help.

He said last night he spoke to someone in Eastern Ghouta who asked him to “just do something, we are dying”.

They don’t need to stay there and die slowly, they need their human rights.

Also speaking at the press conference was a man who left Syria in March 2013.

“We were forced to leave the town because of regime airstrikes, with the same excuse as in Eastern Ghouta and elsewhere that there were terrorists inside.”

He said he was motivated to call for action – either from Irish or international authorities – as the situation shows no sign of abating.

“We need to do something, even to just say a word, rather than just thinking or feeling bad about them,” he said, suggesting more safe zones for civilians or an international humanitarian fund.

He said the situation is most pressing for an ‘entire generation of children’ who are growing up without access to education, food, or shelter.

Michael Lenehan of Irish Syria Solidarity Movement called for an increased response from the Irish government to Russian involvement in the conflict.

This including all state agencies to cease trade talks with Russia, to summon the Russian ambassador, and cease all cultural relations, including St Patrick’s Day visits and involvement in the Fifa World Cup.

“We also plead with Irish businesses to consider the consequences of your business decisions.”

“Decisions made in government departments and in Irish boardrooms have a very direct consequence on the plight of people in Syria.”

Contains reporting by AFP

Read: ‘We have two options: death or displacement’ >

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