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22.23 12 Jan 2018


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Anti-war protesters are holding a demonstration outside the Russian Embassy in Dublin on Saturday afternoon over fresh attacks on rebel-held areas of Damascus.

Ghouta and Idlib have come under repeated air-attack by Syrian Government forces – despite the fact they form part a network of de-escalation zones in which acts of aggressions are expressly prohibited.

The de-escalation zones are endorsed by Russia, Turkey and Iran.

Eastern Ghouta – a suburb of Damascus - is home to around 400,000 people and has been held under siege by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime since 2013.

International humanitarian organisations have voiced fear residents trapped inside the suburb face the prospect of starvation.

The Syrian White Helmets have reported that around 1,337 civilians were killed by regime attacks in the area last year

The UK-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights has warned that 178 civilians – including 51 children – have been by raids and artillery and rocket strikes in the suburb since December 29th.

The figures cannot be independently verified.

Michael Lenehan, spokesperson for the Irish Syria Solidarity Movement, said that on Saturday, demonstrators will be calling on the Irish Government to make their voices heard with both the Russian and to the Iranian Governments.

Syrian war protesters to demonstrate outside Russian Embassy in Dublin

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

“The thing about Idlib is that there is no other buffer zone, the situation for those people is particularly dire,” he said.

“In Ghouta, they have had starvation sieges going there for years but there was always some amount of supplies getting through every now and again through smuggling and so on – but all those routes have been taken away.

“Now we see the children who are being starved to death and I think there are dozens, as far as I am aware, of children who are dying of starvation and are being deprived of medical care.”

Refugees

The United Nations estimates that more than five million refugees have been forced to flee Syria since the conflict began in 2011.

Another six million people have been displaced within the country’s borders.

Moia Rowsome is an Irish teacher working with the Kings College London, 'Partnership for Digital Learning and Increased Access' (PADILEIA) project.

The project works with Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan providing online education programmes to young people who might otherwise form part of a “lost generation” with few prospects and little hope.

Higher education

In the longer term the programme aims to support and inspire the next generation to help rebuild post-conflict Syria.

Speaking from Beirut, where she has been visiting some of the projects ‘study hubs,’ she said conditions for students can be extremely difficult:

“They are living in very small quarters and their living quarters are very close to the next person,” she said.

“What has been happening is fires have been starting in some of the camps and actually people have been dying from that.

“And then there are other scenarios where we saw large houses that have been left desolate that refugees can live in.

“The houses are nice and big but there is no heating and I don’t even know if there are any windows in them.

“It is actually quite cold here in January and especially at night time.”

Grassroots organisations

She said there are many ways the Irish authorities and people can get involved and help try and improve the lives of vulnerable people on the ground.

“I think there is so much more that could be done,” she said.

“There are an awful lot of grassroots, very small organisations who are working with Syrian refuges to help them up-skill in certain areas.

“So something that the Government or any benevolent person in Ireland could do is, do a bit of research, see what you can find out about and see what you can contribute to and I think that would be really beneficial for the Syrian refugees.”

The Irish Syria Solidarity Movement protest gets underway outside the Russian Embassy on Orwell in Rathgar, Dublin at 2pm on Saturday afternoon.


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