The Syrian war crisis and its impact on the country’s population
“Since you started reading, roughly 86 Syrians have left the country,” a scroll on the bottom of the page read. Behind the text glided Gray figures, silhouettes of people, like shadows with bags, from the left edge to the right one. Syrian refugees, that’s what they had been reduced to, mere numbers and info graphics.
I was reading a series of stories The Washington Post did back in December 2013, about the Syrian refugee crisis. There were stories of men, women, children, who had left their homes, in search of new lives. The stories also had pictures, speaking in ways that words couldn’t. A few stories rattled me a lot. An 11-year-old boy from Aleppo, who now sells tissue papers in a park in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, so that his younger sister doesn’t have to stay hungry. He returns home every evening after a day in the park and deposits the money with his mother so that she can put it towards buying food for the family.
Dania Amroosh, a seven-year-old girl who wears a red Hello Kitty t-shirt also has a story to tell. Beneath her blanket on the third floor of the Kilis State Hospital in southern Turkey, her stomach has a wound barely stitched shut. Her body is covered with scars from shrapnel, and until a few days ago, half her limbs were covered in casts to heal the broken bones. Her home in Aleppo was bombed, and she lost half her family. The remaining half has spent about seven months sleeping in the corridors of the hospital where Dania found shelter and care.
Every time I reached the end of a story, the number on the scroll changed. I am three stories in and it reads 147 now. I click the arrow on the top scroll and start to read the next story.
‘Story’, how easily I said that word, like it were a work of fiction, a tale about a Roman emperor being told years and years hence. That’s what these people seem to be to us; stories. I am a woman in her early 20s, and the closest I have been to fire is when I am trying to flip my omelet and I fail and scrape my arm with the hot pan instead. If you’re reading this on your phone, tablet or laptop, chances are that you’re not much different.
I wanted to know more about the situation, so, much like an average person with access to the internet, I did a Google search with the word ‘Syria’. The first thing Google told me was that the city of Damascus was bombed about three hours ago, by two suicide bombers. When I moved to the images tab instead, all I saw was rubble, fire, burning buildings and people fleeing.
Syria used to once be a country in Western Asia. Now, it is a “zone of armed conflict” and has turned quite hostile.
I went back to The Washington Post tab and continued by reading the eighth story now. The number on the bottom of the scroll now reads 372. In this one, a two-year-old boy, now living in Lebanon, lost his left eye. And here I am, taking comfort in the fact that at least I wouldn’t go ‘umm..what?’ when someone mentions the words ‘Syrian Refugee Crisis’ to me in a conversation.