Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Syrian refugee families: "Why has the west abandoned our children?"

Families bombed out of their homes in Syria have accused Britain and the West of abandoning them to Bashar al-Assad.
Mourning mothers and fathers attempting to shelter traumatised children say the UK and allies should share the blame for Syria's unrelenting bloodshed and spreading humanitarian crisis.
Speaking in hideouts or tattered tents across the Syrian border in Lebanon, fleeing casualties urged Metro readers to help ease suffering as a new Save The Children appeal launches.
But they also demanded pressure on world leaders to speed up intervention, as US Congress voting on possible military strikes look likely to drag on into next week.
Syrians speaking to Metro expressed disbelief not only that US president Barack Obama would delay military strikes, but would do so having suggested in advance military action was likely.
US and UK talk of airstrikes to come not only raised hopes among Syrian refugees, but also allowed the Syrian ruling Assad regime to relocate key military bases and supplies.
Those close to Syrian opposition groups now fear any eventual strikes may well miss their chemical weapons targets - while leaving even more vulnerable residents still stuck in the capital Damascus.
Among those furious at the West is 33-year-old labourer Adham Al-Hamwi, who set up camp  last week in a tent on the outskirts of the northern Lebanese town Akkar.
He, his 27-year-old wife Nour and their six children have been constantly on the move in recent months, forced out of their home in Homs before taking temporary shelter in Hama and then Damascus.
Now jobless and penniless yet safe in Lebanon, he cast most blame on Assad as 'behind the whole war', while also accusing Iranian forces fighting inside Syria.
But he added: 'There must be airstrikes - the rest of the world must stop Assad.
'Obama says he's ready for the strikes, so why are they waiting?'
David Cameron had wanted Britain to be part of military action, but has now ruled out any involvement after losing a vote in Parliament.
Mr Al-Hamwi urged the prime minister and British politicians to think again, saying: 'If they were in our shoes, and experienced what we have, they would want to strike Assad.
'Just let them try to imagine our lives - they must then decide to hit Assad, and not with limited strikes but with mass destruction like he is doing.'
'What have these children done, to deserve to be left abandoned like this?'
Parents of Syrian children at Save The Children-backed El Bedawwi school in Lebanon's second city Tripoli were also full of scorn for Western prevarication.
Ebtisam Sabbagh, a 38-year-old widow and mother-of-four from Homs, said: 'For two and a half years, all anyone's done is talk and talk, without taking any action - it's unbelievable.
'I'm almost at the point where I want to pick up a gun and go back and fight, if no one else will.
'We've lost our homes, we've lost our country, we've lost everything - we're left as nothing right now.'
Rama Hallab, 32, who covered her three injured children in their bombed Baba Amr home for three days before escaping, added: 'It does feel like the rest of the world doesn't care about us.'
Syrian opposition activists, unwilling to be identified, suggested the disparate groups and brigades opposing Assad were now more united than at any time previously in the 21-month uprising.
They believe Mr Obama's promises of airstrikes have encouraged greater teamwork - and detailed preparations to pummel the heart of the Assad empire in one 'death or glory' push as soon as US rockets fall.
But they tempered any optimism with fears for the future even if the ruling regime is toppled, with extremist groups - including al-Qaeda militants - among those most organised and likely to jostle for supremacy in any post-Assad Syria.
The Save The Children appeal aims to raise £150million to help 1.5million victims of the Syrian crisis.
Meanwhile, the United Nations has received just 40 per cent of its own appeal target - leaving a £1.9billion shortfall.

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