A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Thousands of Syrians continue to flee conflict every day, seeking safety in neighboring countries. Thursday 14 March marked the two year anniversary of the start of the crisis in Syria. Oxfam with partners around the region joined efforts to mark this day by organizing a candlelit vigil in different parts in the world.
We publish below two messages from Oxfam teams and partners in Egypt and Jordan, about this Global Vigil for Syria and the global call for ending the sufferings of Syrians, a call which is more urgent than ever.
Message from Areeg Hegazi, Middle East Policy Adviser, Oxfam in EgyptAreeg Hegazi
I was working with Gassad Wahed, a group of Egyptian youth working on relief work in a number of countries in the region to organize the vigil.
The vigil was organized in Moustafa Mahmoud Square, one of the busiest squares in Cairo. As we were gathering up, it was interesting to see that young men and women started to gather around us, each coming with something green to be able to recognize each other. Gassad Wahed had printed photos of Syrian people from outside and inside Syria. Some photos had the Syrian flag on it. One interesting photo one of the girls was holding was with two girls playing sea-saw in the middle of the rubble. We stood towards the outer end of the square each holding a photo. The group was a mix of Egyptians and Syrians and other nationalities too. Some came with the Syrian flag. As people were driving, they were slowing to look at the photos was then raising their voice cheering us. Some were comparing the situation in Syria with Egypt. Others were sending encouragement messages, “Inshallaah this would be over soon”, “You’ll go back and reconstruct everything again”.
People on the vigil were interested to support for different reasons, some were very sympathetic with the Syrian people, especially the ones in refugee camps. A lot wanted to influence Arab countries to move and pressure Bashar to step down. Some were criticizing the current relief efforts that it’s not enough. Most people just wanted an end to the sufferings of Syrians.
As it was nearing dawn, we started to light up the candles, some of the young men and women started forming the letters Syria in Arabic on the floor which gave a good nice atmosphere and increased the visibility of the vigil. Just then, the electricity went off and there we were all standing with the candles, this lifted up the spirit of people as many considered it an invisible support for the vigil. Syrians in the vigil were touched with the numbers of Egyptians and with the opportunity to mark the anniversary being so far from home. They were very curious about the conditions of refugees in other countries knowing that Oxfam works with the refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. They kept on stressing how they were worried about the Syrians inside Syria and how they want to ensure that organizations and providing the help they need.
Speaking with one of the organizers from Gassad Wahed about how women outnumbered the men in the vigil, he told me that mobilizing women was much easier because women related much more to the sufferings of women and children especially with the cold winter.
One of the Syrian men in the vigil, said that the vigil is important to remind the world even the ones passing by us, about the Syrian crisis, about the people who are dying, leaving their houses, and they need help: "We are confident that the victory will come, we’ve seen it since two years ago, but we just want it to come faster."
A young girl was saying that Egyptians could have easily been in their position, and no one is helping them, I am confident that it’s the people that will help the Syrians and not the governments.
I was very happy and proud to have supported in organizing and participating in the vigil. Even though this is a little move and probably won’t help in easing the suffering but sending the message to the World and to the Syrians that in spite of all the difficulties Egypt is passing by, our hearts are aching for our Syrian brothers and sisters
Message from Stephanie Yousef, ARDD-Legal Aid - Media & Advocacy Manager
Jordanian human rights organization, ARDD-Legal Aid, hosted a Candlelight Vigil in Mafraq, Jordan on March, 14, 2013 in solidarity with the Syrian people.
ARDD-Legal Aid is the first Arab rights-based organization that is dedicated to fighting injustice through the promotion of human rights, democracy, and inclusive development in Jordan. The Syrian crisis has affected thousands of people and created an influx of refugees into Jordan. In this time of hardship ARDD-Legal Aid stands in solidarity with the Syrian people and works diligently for the voices of the refugees to be heard.
March 14 marked the two year anniversary since the start of the crisis, ARDD-Legal Aid united Syrian refugees and Jordanian citizens to stand in solidarity. They stood together as one in this time of adversity and lit a candle for the innocent lives lost and for the inner hope that Syria will be a country of peace and a safe haven for their citizens to return to.
ARDD-Legal Aid would like to thank all of our participants for the support and hope this event is just one example of unity and one step closer to peace in Syria.
Please take a look at our video above, from the event, and take a glance at our photos at our Facebook page.
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