Arms and Aid

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Conflict in Aleppo, Syria - 03 Oct 2012

We live in a world where it is seen as more important to ensure arms can get through than aid to Syria. Politicians meet to discuss how bad Russia are for supplying arms then agree to arm the opposition to make it a fair fight. I can see the logic, but when the UN ask countries to ensure there is $1.5 billion available for the humanitarian effort it seems that countries are slower in their response with $300 million pounds still being waited on. Now the bill is $5bn and no-one is rushing forward. Why are we sitting back and watching the complete collapse of a country but cheering that arms are making their way there when four million children are in need of food and medicine?

Money talks. A country selling arms means jobs, taxes, business income, support for the economy whereas a donation of money to support those killed, maimed, ill and homeless because of those weapons doesn’t help us – it only helps them. This is a selfish and often repeated model over the last few decades where our self-importance trumps helping our fellow human. Those critics talk about the aid not getting through to the right people, or not getting through at all but if we don’t try to help and feed and medicate and care for those victims of this horrific civil war we have failed them. I’m sure the arms companies and suppliers are all getting through to he right people and places though because that’s the priority isn’t it. Russia sit behind a contract claiming they “have to” honour it without once considering the damage and decimation of families and innocents.

Chemical weapons are being used and we’d rather see guns and bombs added to that mix than stopping it; we’d rather ensure the opposition fighters can kill the fathers and sons on the opposite side than help them feed and treat their families. Or would we? Is this another example of the public vs. the politicians – or worse do we care at all? Doesn’t have an effect on my life so why worry? The Arab Spring, as it has been dubbed, is the freeing of countries from the hands of oppressors and despots and when it goes well we support it, when there are oil contracts as in Libya we ensure there is a swift resolution. We seem to have forgotten that it is these children who are watching the eradication of their lives, families and hopes who will be the leaders, generals and politicians of the future and the decisions we take today will have a direct impact on the direction taken by them in the years to come.

In the 1980s we were so focussed on the fight in Afghanistan that we forgot about the people and look where we are today because of that. Don’t forget the people and don’t be part of the “we” that I am talking about. Aid is so important to the millions of refugees who have fled the fighting as well as those who are trapped in the middle of it. Don’t sit back because it doesn’t impact on your life, stand up and be counted because it impacts on theirs.

If you have the means please make a donation to help those who did not ask for the position they find themselves in, for the parents worried for their child and for the children who have been left behind without anyone. Go to UNICEF’s Syrian Appeal page and give whatever you can afford to http://www.unicef.org.uk/landing-pages/donate-syria/

Thank You

JD

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