Let's make this the last war anniversary for Syria


This time last year, I was in Jordan with Save the Children visiting the Za'atari refugee camp on the Syrian border. I also attended a candlelit vigil in the Jordanian capital, Amman, to commemorate the second anniversary of the Syrian crisis at which world leaders were urged to act to stop the bloodshed.

One year on, we are approaching the third anniversary and nothing has been done. Every hour, 300 people flee their homes in fear, and more than 6,000 people are killed every month.

It's particularly awful for the children of Syria with no food, water, health care or means of escape. There are an estimated 4.5 million children who need help in the country. What is really galling is the public apathy over a tragedy that is unfolding every second, a little more than 2,000 miles away from us. A whole generation of children are becoming casualties of war.

I can't help but think of the family from Daraa that I met in Za'atari – all living in one tent. When I spoke to them they had only been in the camp for two weeks. They are now reaching their first anniversary of living in that tent with seemingly no end in sight to their limbo life.

I was particularly moved by A Second a Day – a powerful film released by Save the Children which attempted to show how it might feel if a civil war broke out here in the UK. The film shows the world through the eyes of a little girl and follows her life in London as conflict breaks out and her home, security and health all crumble away.

The message? Just because it isn't happening here, doesn't mean it isn't happening.

The people of Syria must not lose another year to suffering. A coalition of more than 50 charities, including Save the Children, is launching a plea for world leaders to commit to making this the final anniversary we will have marking the continued bloodshed in Syria.

I travelled all over Syria in my youth, and it is a truly wonderful country that I feel incredibly attached to. The last time I was in the country, in 2006, I was filming a documentary. As I drove out over the border into Lebanon, our vehicle was chased by a gaggle of laughing, happy school kids excited to see our cameras. I often wonder what has happened to those smiling, innocent little faces eight years on. Many would now be at an age where they would be dragged into the fighting. Some might have made it over the nearby border to a life of exile. One thing is certain – all of them will have been affected in some way by the vicious conflict that has torn this wonderful place apart.

This week I shall be supporting the many vigils that will be taking place all over the world, from London to New York, Amman to Red Square, to shine a light of hope for the people of Syria. I urge you to do the same. Go to with-syria.org to find out more. Get out there and make yourself heard.

The violence in Syria has to stop. #withsyria

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