Yesterday the number of Syrian refugees registered by the UN in Lebanon passed one million. Most Lebanese people will tell you the real number is much higher.
I first met Hala at a tented settlement in central Bekaa, East Lebanon. She had been here for a year, one in a million refugees who have fled Syria. They call her 'the orphan'; her tomboy walk and winter hat make her easy to spot. She speaks with a disturbing nonchalance; a hardness, common amongst many refugees I have met. Her hair is falling out.
I thought that we lived in an era that looked back on the horrors of Rwanda and Yugoslavia and said 'never again' and meant it. Sadly I think the crisis in Syria proves all of us wrong and we are all collectively guilty for allowing the country to collapse as it has. Three years on and we see both a biblical level exodus combined with a levels of violence that few of us could have imagined in our wildest dreams. Over nine million people, nearly half of the country, forced from their homes and on the move exposed to a new life of uncertainty, poverty and too often despair.
We arrived at the Douma branch of Sarc to meet 35 volunteers who are working under very tiring circumstances. The city, with a population of 50,000, has been under a tight blockade for more than six months.
In February 2014, Syrian state media accused Jordan of supporting rebels in southern Syria, aided by the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. Inde...
"If I am not a student, I am nothing." Hany's home is a wooden frame and plastic sheets. Thick carpets line the floor and long cushions serve as sofas. A wood stove offers warmth. A TV connected to satellite brings news from Syria.
The Syrian people have suffered more than most can possibly imagine. March 15th will mark the third anniversary of this barbaric war on civilians and a campaign is gathering to both show solidarity and inspire political change. Three years of failure by the world to end the appalling suffering.
In the days leading up to 15th March, the third anniversary of the start of the conflict, people all over the world will be holding vigils to remind their governments that giving up on Syria is not an option.
Noam Chomsky is probably the most influential leftist on the planet right now. So when he argues the US "has shown no indication it wants the rebels to win in Syria", as he did recently in an interview with the Voice of Russia, his opinion carries a lot of weight amongst progressives...
As the war in Syria enters its fourth year, it's easy to lose hope. Even if there is a peace deal in the next few months - which, after the disappointments of the Geneva peace talks, seems as unlikely as ever - how will people recover, rebuild, and achieve any sort of reconciliation? How can Syria be a functioning country again?
Things are truly desperate. Two out of every three people in Yarmouk are now said to be suffering malnutrition, and at least 128 people have starved to death since last July.
Imagine the horrors of healthcare in a warzone: children having limbs amputated because of a lack of medical supplies and equipment to treat their wounds. Patients knocked out with iron bars, rather than face an operation without anaesthetic. A newborn baby dying in an incubator because of power-cuts... For millions of people inside Syria - this is the reality of their lives now.
"But why is Ukraine so vital?" you may ask. "Well", I reply, in a fittingly grave and solemn tone, "because it is the latest manifestation of Russian aggression, and we cannot allow the sabre rattling (and unsheathing) of a tyrant like Vladimir Putin go unpunished."
We started this. That's what I can't help thinking every time I hear about the latest death and suffering in Syria. When the US and Britain invaded Iraq in 2003, we set off a chain of events that led inexorably to the killing fields of Damascus and Aleppo.
The political elite has every interest in minimising and dismissing popular protest but it was the anti-war movement that played the crucial role in highlighting government deceit in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq and mobilising and educating so many people.
Far from the conference corridors at the Geneva 2 talks - the corridors of the UNHCR's Beirut office are bustling. Outside in the morning sun hundreds of Syrian refugees have already gathered in long queues. They're waiting.