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Dublin: 14 °C Saturday 20 April, 2019
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Dubliners got a chance to see what life is really like in Syria

The video was harrowing.

IT’S A HUMID end of summer afternoon in Dublin’s city centre.

The air is thick and it feels like it might rain at any second. A band has gathered a large crowd to listen to their earnest love songs and lifting harmonies.

A health-food company is handing samples to tourists and those on their lunch breaks alike.

And in a small, black tent the Irish public is being invited to view a video showing what life is really like in Syria.

The death of Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi made headlines around the world, sparking anger and outrage and focusing the world’s mind on the fact that people are dying because they are leaving Syria.

But Irish charity Goal wants to show people just what they’re fleeing.

The video

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The video carries warnings about the nature of the footage. It’s not necessarily graphic, but it is upsetting.

In one clip, a mobile phone films a busy street on a gorgeously sunny day. Then, suddenly, the tranquility is punctuated by a bomb blast. The video shows people being pulled from the wreckage – both alive and dead.

It is a harrowing look at the everyday reality of a conflict that has killed 220,000 and made 11 million more refugees.

One man is too upset to talk after watching it, saying only that it was “very sad” before walking away, tears in his eyes.

Another says that the film should be shown outside on big screens, not in the confines of a tent. One woman says the film has “moved her off the fence” on taking in more refugees.

The graphic nature of the video was deliberate, Goal CEO Barry Andrews told TheJournal.ie.

What ended the Bosnian war was that the public got fed up. They saw something (the Srebrenica massacre) that changed the electoral calculation –  doing something was more costly than not doing something.

“That’s the reality of foreign conflict resolution.”

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Andrews says that while this event is small, everything comes from something small.

“The biggest mistake would be to do nothing because you can’t do everything. We’re trying to increase people’s awareness of the war so that they don’t look back and say “what would I have done if I’d known more?”"

The former TD called on Ireland’s political leadership to step up on the issue and said Ireland’s assistance of refugees and our own homeless is not a zero-sum proposition.

We took Vietnamese people in back in the 70s when weren’t a wealthy country, we took Bosnians in in the early 90s, we gave millions to Africa in the 80s so if we’ve decided we’re going to wait until we’ve sorted our own social problems before helping others, that’s a huge shift in Irish attitudes.

“It’s not an either/or.”

As Finán O’Donoghue leaves the tent, he sums up the over-riding attitude to those who have stopped to watch the video.

“It’s shocking. This week has been the catalyst for myself and my wife to do something ourselves.”

Read: Refugee crisis: Taoiseach says Ireland could take in more than 1,800 people

Read: “This sickening f*cking disgrace”: Bob Geldof pledges to take in four refugee families

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