Humairaa Mayet |29 April 2019 | Image: history.com
Syria is well into its eighth year of civil war, yet recently the world has turned a blind eye. Turkish humanitarian workers, Erhan Yemelik and Hasan Aynaci visited South Africa, explained the conflict and brought listeners of the News and Views programme up to speed with it.
The two men are members of the IHH, a humanitarian organisation based in Turkey and are in South Africa attempting to raise awareness about the severe humanitarian crisis in Syria.
Yemelik explained that the war, which has been going on for almost a decade, has resulted in severe difficulties. Many Syrians have fled their country for the border straddling Turkey, while millions remain displaced within their own homeland. He estimated that there are 700 000 people living in tents along the border, and that one tent usually accommodates between 11 and 13 people; a whole family. In winter these tents are like fridges, whereas in summer they can be likened to ovens. As difficult as life is in the tents, these people prefer it over living amidst strife in their country. They are unable to do anything and are made to wait for aid to reach them.
The Idlib region that is currently not under the control of the Syrian government continues to be attacked by Russian and Syrian forces. According to Yemelik little to no conventions or rules are followed and civilians are injured and killed on a daily basis. He claimed that over a million children have been orphaned and 300 000 women widowed.
People have become used to Syrians being killed. Due to the frequency of deaths in the civil war, people have become apathetic towards news about the deaths of Syrians.
“The coming Ramadhaan will be the most difficult Ramadan that Syria has had in the last eight years. Previously, organisations would help the people of Syria in this auspicious month but no longer contribute. Those living in tents along the border are in need of everything; food, water, sanitary products, and many other necessities. Most only own the clothes that they are wearing and nothing else,” said Yemelik.