Saturday, 14 May 2016
Friday, 13 May 2016
'On Thursday, Omar eagerly awaited the arrival of an international aid convoy that was scheduled to bring medicine and baby formula into Daraya. It would have been the first convoy to reach Daraya since it was first besieged in 2012 — but the trucks didn't make it to the town.
According to the ICRC, it was turned away at the last checkpoint outside of Daraya. Just minutes after the convoy was sent back, the Local Council of Daraya — a committee that operates as the local government — reported that the Syrian army had shelled a group of civilians who'd gathered to receive the aid. A father and son were killed and five other civilians were injured, the council said.
Wednesday, 11 May 2016
'As in a number of Arab countries, many of Syria's women were largely confined to traditional roles before the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the outbreak of war. Now, however, more and more women are at the forefront of new efforts to solve local problems and counter the death and destruction that has engulfed the country.
One of the ways they've done this is by starting their own independent magazines and radio stations, such as Jasmine Syria, Sayedet Souriya, Radio Souriyat and Nasaem Radio, which focus on highlighting the daily struggles of Syrian women amid the conflict."The stereotypical image of women presented in media reflects a patriarchal society," said Reem al-Halabi, director of Nasaem Radio, which is based in the northwestern city of Aleppo. "Women's interests are not limited to fashion, beauty, cooking, family and children. This image does not reflect the real interests or concerns of Syrian women or how hard they are working to take part in building their country."
More women are also launching community initiatives, such as Women Now for Development, a center formed by women in 2012 in the besieged town of Hazza in the Damascus countryside to provide training in new skills. The initiative focuses on young women who have had to quit school due to the security situation and widows who need to generate income to support their families. Layla, the manager of Women Now for Development, said the conflict had paradoxically "opened new horizons" for some Syrian women. "They are more self-confident and not afraid to express their opinions anymore, and this is reflected in the way they raise their children and deal with their husbands and the society around them," said Layla, who asked that her real name not be used for security reasons.Layla added that Women Now's workshops about women's rights have contributed to increasing the number of women who voted in local council elections in Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of the Syrian capital, Damascus.
"Since the revolution began, Syrian women have shown an interest in politics," she said. "They do not base their opinions on what men say; they form their own opinions by analyzing the news themselves."
"My work with the Network of Guardians helped me develop management skills, which was something I never learned in college," said Hiba, a fourth-year architecture student at the University of Damascus who had to quit her studies because of the security situation, especially the random arrests at checkpoints between Damascus and her home in Douma. "The current conflict in Syria has played a positive role in breaking the stereotype of women as housewives. Women today have a great opportunity and they should take advantage of it, especially with the number of men being lost in Syria to the fighting, imprisonment and abduction."
In the city of Raqqa in northeastern Syria, Suad Nofal has become a symbol of resistance to tyranny. For a long time, she had opposed the Syrian regime. Later, she confronted the Islamic State. Since she had been a well-known teacher in Raqqa, she initially succeeded in opening a dialogue with a number of IS fighters who were former students, which irritated IS's foreign leaders. They banned their fighters from talking to her, then they began to harass and threaten Suad and issued a fatwa ordering her execution, which forced her to move to Turkey in 2013.'
Tuesday, 10 May 2016
'In April 2011, as protesters began gathering in Homs’ Clock Square, Atassi joined them. Like many women, she brought her children along. For hours, she said, people stood and peacefully protested, for “freedom, justice, dignity, and pride.” Around midnight, regime forces began shooting.
“I saw the first man killed. He was killed in front of his wife and children. My children were so afraid. We left, running to the car,” said Atassi. Though they escaped unharmed, she said, “this made me look for victims of the regime … This is when I decided to help.”
In late 2012, her son, who was then 17, was detained at a Red Cross checkpoint in Homs while en route to distribute supplies to protesters. He was released only a week later.
“Then myself and my family received direct threats for our humane work,” said Atassi. “That’s when we decided to leave.”
Before fleeing Syria, Sandra Bitarova told Women in the World, she was detained twice for getting involved in humanitarian work there. This included connecting protesters with media outlets to share videos of their demonstrations, and distributing supplies, such as baby milk, in central Homs. The first time Bitarova was detained for only 24 hours. But the second time she said she was held for 35 days. While in jail, she said, “I kept hearing people screaming out of torture, and smelling burning flesh.”
“I am one of the lucky few who didn’t get physically tortured, but there was psychological torture,” she said. “They were saying: ‘You will be next’ and ‘Where is your sister? We hear she is active too.’”
After being released, Bitarova said she received information from a government agent, who later defected, that she would be arrested a third time. This time, the agent said, she would not be released. “He said you have two days to vanish,” according to Bitarova. And so, in August 2012, she and her sister fled the country.
The women described a continued lack of basic services in many areas of Syria, random searches and arrests by government forces, millions who have lost their homes, children who have never been to school, and no recourse for government violations. “Anybody who does open a mouth is detained and tortured, eventually leading to death,” claimed Atassi.
While Atassi said the general atmosphere of fear increased after the extremist group ISIS — or Daesh, as it is known in Syria — began seizing large parts of the country, the main terror remains Assad’s forces.
“We always have to have hope, because without hope, we are not going to be living creatures,” said Atassi. “Our hope is to get rid of this crisis and this war… But I implore the world community to stick to their resolution to get Assad out, because as long as Assad is there, the problems are not going to end.”'