رحلة إلى سوريا ~ A Trip to Syria

Photo and article by ©Christopher Davies

Synopsis 

Motivated by the events of the Arab Spring and the genocide of religious minorities within Syria by various terrorist organisations, I applied and was accepted to work with an international charity organisation called SOS Chrétiens d’orient.  I went to Syria on the 9th of October for almost five  weeks. I spent most of my time in a village called Maloola located 56km north-east of Damascus. Witnessing the effects of war first-hand I saw the devastation caused, not only on a humanitarian level but also the effect war makes on the environment.

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Military action is having a significant impact on all our lives. Today we see the impact of war on people in war-torn countries and also in countries which are not at war. The impact this has in a country which is not at war is mass migration. This can be because of people fleeing persecution, or environmental factors like global climate change, exacerbated by war.

Other than the loss of human life, the biggest remaining factor which is over looked is the impact war has on the world, the environment and nature.
Not only can war be destructive to the socio-environment, but military action produces greenhouse gases which contribute to mass climate change and pollution, and cause resource depletion, not to mention health risks including cancer.
After spending some time in a war-torn country (Syria) and witnessing the destruction first-hand, I believe the devastation wreaked on nature and the environment is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Because of the development of technology, modern warfare has become capable of destroying the world as we know it.
I believe if we don’t learn from history we are doomed to repeat it.
Between 6th August and 9th August 1945 the atom bomb was dropped in Japan killing around 226,00 people. Around half the number of deaths happened in the first three days. Today it is said that people are still suffering from genetic defects cause by radiation.
Water and soil were contaminated for many years after the atom bomb was dropped.
An estimated 15,000 nuclear weapons are threatening world civilisation today.

Whilst no other nuclear bomb has been detonated, chemical weapons have been used in Syria.
Since 2013, according to the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, there have been 35 chemical attacks in Syria.
While the international communities were quick to support the accusation of the terrorist “rebels” blaming the Assad regime, there was and still is no evidence that the Assad regime used chemical weapons on his people. Yet before the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons)  even stepped on the ground in Syria to assess the situation, western countries had fired missiles into Syria, killing soldiers and causing unnecessary environmental damage.
A few examples of where the early stages of the chemical attacks took place are: 

Al Assan 19th March 2013
Saraqib 29th April 2013
Ghouta 21st August 2013
Jobar 24th August 2013
Ashrafiyat 25th August 2013

During my time in Syria I saw the heartbreaking effects of war both on a humanitarian scale and on an environmental level. Not only homes were destroyed but surrounding farmland, crops and trees were obliterated or nature around these areas died of neglect because of people fleeing for their lives. On my way to the house of the organisation in Damascus from Maloola I drove through the neighbourhood of Qaboun in Damascus. This was once primarily controlled by the terrorists Jaysh al Islam (the army of Islam) and the FSA (Free Syrian Army). Driving through this neighbourhood was the biggest shock of all during my time in Syria. The scenery I saw resembled the aftermath of a nuclear bomb. The drive took about 10 minutes, although it felt like I was driving down a road that was never-ending. There were cars burnt out, blown up tanks on the roadside,
shells of what had once been buildings and glass everywhere. This moment changed my life. I knew I had to speak out and tell everyone and anyone who will listen to me about the effects of war and the devastation and destruction it brings to mankind and the impact it has on the environment and nature. I believe we can only preserve freedom and life until the next generation if we all do our part today to bring about peace and stability. Then the next generation will have a solid foundation for progress.

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