As the UK hosted the ‘Supporting Syria and the Region’ UN backed conference, in (of all places) Newport, it was announced that over £10bn had been raised to fund aid, while also making long term commitments to education targets and opening the economies of neighbouring countries to boost job opportunities.
However, while this event was splashed across all the major news channels most people had never heard of the Bond ‘Civil Society Conference’ held on the 3rd of February, the day before representatives from 60 states converged on Newport. The aim of the event was to highlight the experiences of the Syrian people and channel their voices to heads of state involved in the conference the next day, enabling the views and input of those immersed in the conflict to be incorporated into a long term strategy for the region.
In that vein, here are some ways that you can help put the voices of those living and working in the region to the centre of the resolution process;
This is an interactive documentary created by the Washington Post which puts together a series of film clips and photographs filmed by refugees, reporters and passers-by of the refugees’ journey to the Greek island of Lesbos, as well as interviews with the coast guard and volunteers. It is easy to get caught up in the scale of crisis, but seeing a child of around five struggle to be rescued from the sea and helped onto a boat definitely puts into perspective not just the scale but the extreme dangers individuals endure everyday.
Can’t Do Nothing
A movement created by the American actress Milana Vayntrub, who felt that it was ridiculous that she was visiting Greece on holiday while so many people there were fleeing for their lives. The Can’t Do Nothing movement provides a clear avenue for people who want to help by creating three easy steps to spread the message through social media using #CantDoNothing and watching a short film of Vayntrub’s experience when she went to Lesbos to try and help in any way she could.
Exeter’s affiliated society is running a Vasant Panchami Charity Spring Ball in conjunction with Exeter Hindu Society NHSF, where all of the money raised from the dinner and dance will go to UNICEF. The event will take place on the 4th March at Reed Hall and is destined to be an “elegant evening with an Indian Twist,” an easy way to have a great evening with friends and raise money for charity.
Devon Development Education
This group are running a talk titled ‘Gown Meets Town: Migration, Borders, and Refugees – Ancient and Modern’ at the Global Centre on the 24th of February which will explore the changing dynamics of what is understood as migration and how this evolution has shaped responses to refugee crises. Grappling with the connotations of the language we use in political debates is essential when trying to find a solution, as it is important to understand how the terms used to frame the discussion bias and blind us towards different options.
The European March for Refugee Rights
A global event is taking place on the 27th February organised by Safe Passage NOW! demanding a pledge guaranteeing the safe passage of refugees from international governments. Demonstrations are confirmed from all over the world, from Germany to Turkey, the Netherlands to Spain, with marches taking place in London and Bristol in the UK. The group encourages everyone to set up their own event to raise awareness of the struggles facing refugees and put pressure on all European governments to change their policy concerning those fleeing war and persecution.
A media project that aims to better explore the nuances of the conflict in the Syria using a wide range of digital tools to enhance engagement including; an interactive timeline, the Syria Files with historical background and contemporary analysis, news coverage by independent journalists and a Conflict Map locating the numbers of casualties and refugees. The site also provides a weekly newsletter which provides a summary and analysis of the most important developments in the crisis. This site is really unique because it allows you to explore step-by-step the events and conditions that underlie the crisis as well as a diverse commentary on what can be done moving forward.