A little boy weeps besides the body of his brother. His hands ceaselessly scavenging the corpses of his brother, unable to believe his sibling is no longer with him in this world.
Simultaneously, a father stands panic-stricken in the morgue. Tears flow from his eyes and his face is puffy. Before him lies lifeless body of his beautiful baby; a boy for whom he had waited ages.
These scenes are not fairy tales. They are real; they are happening in our world. We do not hear about them because we do not live there and the mainstream media are not paying attention. If we are destined to be the people of Syria, perhaps the weak and helpless faces of those who have lost loved ones, or the innocent bodies lying in hospital beds or among the rubble, are our own faces or the bodies of our families.
The tears and blood of Syrian people have long been spilled for reasons unknown to them. They have no idea what sins they committed towards their cruel ruler until bombs are dropped on the roofs of their homes. They also have no clue what mistakes they have made to the extent that super-advanced fighter aircraft constantly direct their missiles towards schools and hospitals. The war has been raging for more than five years, but the innocent individuals continue to wonder why they are easy targets.
The horrendous attacks against Syrian people unfold like a television serial. Two of the most recent episodes occurred last week, on 14th and 16th of June, in the city of Aleppo. The 16th June episode lasted a few hours before a ceasefire was declared. The attacks targeted residential areas and caused fires, which resulted in the destruction of houses and buildings. Not only that, the indiscriminate attacks reportedly claimed the lives of seven and injured many more.
The previous episode, 14th June, was more powerful. That day saw more than 50 air strikes bombarding the houses of Syrian people. During this episode, 34 individuals were killed and many more injured. Keep in mind, these are just two latest episodes. There are many other previous episodes that escape our attention and it is impossible to explain them one by one. And perhaps new episodes are developing as we type. Indeed, the battle is a daily one for innocent Syrians.
There is a famous proverb that reads as follows: when two elephants fight, the victims are the ants creeping underneath. They will surely die, sinking to the ground and trampled by the elephants that are being battered by anger. In the context of Syria, unfortunately, there are not only two elephants. There are many other elephants fighting each other: the Assad regime; Russia; Hezbollah; the Islamic State; the Gulf governments; US-led coalitions; the UK; France; and others. Among these elephants are those who claim to be loyal supporters of other elephants. Each elephant arrived draping across their chests a banner stating 'for the sake of Syrian people'. But of course, it was just a cosmetic necklace to appear dashing and humanist in the eyes of the people. In reality, they do not care about the cries and the blood of Syrian people. Their concerns lie only in their own interests. As for the suffering of the Syrian people, in their hearts they say "none of my business!"
It is evident that their giant feet have destroyed everything beneath them, not only the Syrian people. Schools are collapsed, hospitals are destroyed, there are leaking water pipes, houses of worship are destroyed, and the economy is stalled. As reported by the UN Commission of Inquiry, most parties involved in the Syrian conflict have been proven to have committed war crimes, such as murder, torture, rape, and disappearances. Furthermore, they are methods of warfare that cause suffering to the Syrian people; for example, blockading access to food, water, and health services.
To date, a significant number of Syrians have become victims of war in their homeland. Though the number may not sound critical to us, it is important to remember one human life is truly meant for those who lose. These individuals may be a son, a father, a wife, a husband, a grandson or a grandmother. They are all very important because they are the source of happiness for those closest to them. When this source is removed, the lives of those left behind will be accompanied by an indefinite sadness.
Syrian citizens who have escaped the war have not fared well either. They have been transformed into a group of vagrants with neither homes nor shelter. Their number is not small. More than 11 million people must leave their homes as a result of the never-ending war. If calculated per day, since the conflict started in 2011, an average of 50 families per day have been forced to leave Syria.
It is vital to remember that 11 million is not merely a number written on the piece of paper. These are the lives of human beings, just like us. They have dreams, they have places full of memories. Everything has to be abandoned because of the endless fighting between the power-hungry, heartless elephants.
Wailing moans of loss will continue to reverberate in the Syrian air as long as the elephants involved continue to promote their egos. It is unclear how to stop these, but one thing must be made clear; if concrete steps are not taken, eventually we will pay the price. Finally, the time has come to lend whatever assistance we can to alleviate the suffering of Syrians. Remember, they are humans, just like us.
This piece is co-authored with Muhammad Beni Saputra, a postgraduate student at the University of Manchester.