Next week, 15 March will mark three years since the start of the Syrian conflict. To the children of Syria, this day will mark three years of war, suffering and loss. To the international community, this day will act as a grim reminder of the collective failure to end the appalling suffering. This year Save the Children, in coalition with global partners, is working to make this anniversary about hope. We are working to mobilise people around the globe to shine a light of hope for the people of Syria. Based on the belief that by working together we can change the situation for Syria’s children, we are asking people in every country to stand #WithSyria.
In fact, just weeks ago, after months of campaigning, we saw a significant diplomatic breakthrough in the Syria crisis. The UN security council reached an historic agreement, in the form of a resolution demanding humanitarian access to vulnerable children and their families throughout Syria. It was a glimmer of hope for those in need of life-saving aid. But we now need to ensure that this breakthrough translates into change on the ground. And for that to happen, we need to ensure our leaders feel a level of public pressure to act proportionate with the scale of the suffering caused by the Syria crisis.
From South Korea to Sweden, Japan to Jordan, people in over 30 countries are coming together to hold vigils and shine a light in solidarity with the people of Syria. Led by children, the vigils will take place at national landmarks across the globe. In London the event will take place on Thursday 13 March at 6pm in Trafalgar Square and will feature a light projection onto Nelson’s Column, a soundscape using recordings from Syrian people outlining their hopes for the future, and a child-led vigil to illuminate the square (You can find more details and register for tickets for the London event here and you can find an interactive map listing all events here). At their simplest, the global #WithSyria vigils are about people standing with the millions of Syrian children, women, and men who are struggling each day to survive this crisis. We want to show them we are #WithSyria.
We also want to challenge our leaders to do more. The #WithSyria campaign is calling on them to sign up to a pledge and commit to doing everything they can to make sure the people of Syria do not lose another year to bloodshed and suffering. As a first step, this includes calling on our leaders to turn the diplomatic breakthrough at the security council into an urgently-needed humanitarian breakthrough, in particular, prioritising the lifting of sieges where civilians are being denied humanitarian access could lead to real impact on the ground.
Ultimately, we all have a role to play in ensuring this is the last anniversary marked by bloodshed, not only our decision-makers. Although we can often feel disempowered – the human cost of the war too vast, the suffering too distant – there is real reason to believe that by coming together we can change the outlook for Syria’s children.
A few days ago, Save the Children released a campaign video looking at the effect of war on children. In just two days, the video has now reached over 10 million viewers. The final end board, ‘Just because it isn’t happening here, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening’, has resonated in a big way with people, cutting through the general fatigue and disempowerment that many of us have felt in the face of the ongoing conflict. It could not have come at a more relevant time – as we are only days away from the third anniversary of conflict. The need to stand #WithSyria and give hope has never been more pressing. Join us as we campaign for an end to the bloodshed in Syria and for aid to reach all those who need it. Join us in giving hope to the millions of Syrians affected by this tragic conflict.
Andrea Vukovic is senior campaigns adviser at Save the Children
Progressive centre-ground Labour politics does not come for free.
Our work depends on you.