Since many days tens of hundreds of European activists are rushing into the central stations of their cities to welcome refugees, mostly Syrians. They arrived via the western Balkan route which means they entered the European Union through the Bulgarian-Turkish or Greek-Turkish land or sea borders and then proceed, through the Western Balkans, into Hungary for their final destination, most probably, Germany or Sweden.
As a Syrian living in Europe since almost three years this is a fascinating and yet extremely difficult moment for me. At one hand, it is, without any doubt, a heartwarming moment to see all this solidarity from people to people. On the other hand, I fear this solidarity to be both; temporary and purely humanitarian with no political associations assigned to it. It is not my aim to analyze why this solidarity and shift and why now? The Guardian did fairly good job.
However, it took me some energy and courage to get out of my victim’s persona and draft this blog and ask one simple question: now what? What are we going to do after the masses of people are over? What are we going to do when no more food and blankets are needed? At some point, sooner or later, masses will cease to come and numbers might decline rapidly. But, at least 15 million Syrians will still remain in Syria under the daily bombardment of Assad and the knives of ISIS. What is our plan for those?
Almost five years into the Syrian bloodbath and we still, in Sweden for example, can’t get the political powers to debate the issue internally or as a matter of foreign policy. It is a failure of a great gravity for the Syrian community as much as it is for the political powers. However, history taught us to count on people and not parties.
Therefore, there is a momentum now and this momentum will not last forever. It is today that history will test us and people, back in Syria, will wait impatiently the result. It is our moral responsibility as Syrian activists in the diaspora and as European activists in your respective country to self-organize and seek meaningful ways to help. Otherwise, we will be trapped in our humanitarianism, which believe it or not, will not save anybody.
Join the work. Look at the work of Planet Syria which is a group of non-violent Syrian organizations and individuals all over Syria. There, you can find three key things you can do: Join a statement, tell a group about Planet Syria and invite everyone you know to do the same.
Get informed. The Syria Campaign work tirelessly to bring us everyday information by Syrian organization, human rights based and others, about what is going on. By getting informed you are getting equipped with tools and knowledge necessary to support. Read their recent post: Ending the ‘refugee crisis’ starts with ending the Syria crisis: Critical things everyone needs to know when supporting Syrian refugees
Organize. We believe as Syrians that political solutions are our scapegoat from this man-made bloodbath; therefore we need you to organize. For example: raise the issue in your political party next meeting. Tell your MP in the parliament to arrange for a hearing about Syria and get Syrian activists involved. Organize an event to fund raise for the White Helmets, those who save lives after Assad bombs entire towns, speak of their heroism and the bombs. Think of what is best in your context. You are the Syria Campaigner Now.
I finish with words from the diary of by Muznah al-Jundi, a young woman who works at a women’s center in Idlib, North of Syria where Assad bombs never stop
“Your governments know what is happening to us in all its painful details, that we’re being killed and displaced in myriad ways, but they want to look after their own interests Peace is not in the cards for us unless the world moves to establish a safe zone free from the planes of the government that is bent on destroying everything that defies it”