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Are the British public bored of the Arab Spring?

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Amidst the furore surrounding Oscar Pistorius’ murder charge, the horse meat scandal and the Eastleigh byelection, it is easy to forget that a humanitarian crisis in Syria is continuing, argues Harrison Jones.

Picture credits: The British Monarch
The Prince of Wales meeting Syrian refugees this week. But are the public fed up with hearing about Syria? Picture credits: The British Monarchy

The modern press is unforgiving in its priorities, with the deaths of around 60 people in Damascus last month going virtually unnoticed. Indeed, it seems as if the British public are simply bored of the Arab Spring, now taking a rather blasé attitude towards the civil war raging in a faraway nation.

Of course, there are various crises in a multitude of countries worldwide, but after the recent conviction of potential UK suicide bombers and concern over the terrorist threat from Mali, media coverage of Syria is striking in it’s sparsity.

Whilst becoming slightly bored of the countless Harlem Shake videos invading screens nationwide, the public remained virtually oblivious to the numerous deaths and injuries only a few thousand miles away. It all seemed a mere after-thought on the news channels, immune as we all appear to now be to such reports, after 23 relentless months of violence.

But the desperate situation in Syria shows no sign of abating. An estimated 70,000 people have already died and around 2.5 million have fled their homes, with food supplies remaining drastically low. Despite the worst of the winter now being over, the Syrian people have very little shelter, hindered by daily destruction of infrastructure – partly the fault of the Russian government continuing to arm the Assad regime.

Picture credits: MAG (Mines Advisory Group)
The Domiz Refugee Camp in Iraqi Kurdistan which is currently housing 50,000 Syrian refugees. Around 2.5 million have fled their homes and 70, 000 estimated dead. Picture credits: MAG (Mines Advisory Group)

After Kofi Annan’s rather futile ‘plan’ predictably failed to stop Assad – and the rebels – from committing numerous atrocities, no coherent alternative has since been implemented.

The UN appears no closer to solving the issue, as the similarities with its failed predecessor, The League of Nations, become increasingly apparent. It too failed to deal with numerous issues amidst an economic downturn on a similar scale to the current one. And their international priorities, certainly from a European perspective, were apparently not with the plight of war-torn populations, but with their own world standing.

To add to the current international body’s mishandling of the situation, it all seems to be a contradiction in principles. Only last year, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and others were all taking part in military action in Libya. The circumstances are remarkably similar, except that the Syrians have a far bigger army. Oh, and far less oil.

Yet the media appears to have become hushed over the whole affair. It is understandable, because the public will inevitably become tired of repetitive stories and eventually not buy, read or view them. Nonetheless surely it is the press’ job to highlight major crises, no matter how tedious the coverage may become. Clearly it is not as simple as writing an article and watching it become policy; but more debate in the media might increase the chances of finding a viable solution.

It seems particularly surprising that government inconsistency has not been more widely probed. If the principle is there: that intervention is acceptable, then help probably ought to be given to the rebels, if only for consistency’s sake. Without such a solution – of whatever nature – countless more people are going to die in Syria and across the Middle East.

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