Sunday 18 August 2019

Violence seen in Paris 'happens every day in Syria'

A refugee child looks at a map of Europe inside a make-shift tent at a refugee camp close to a registration center on Lesbos
A refugee child looks at a map of Europe inside a make-shift tent at a refugee camp close to a registration center on Lesbos

John Brennan

A leading expert on reform in the Arab world has said the response to the crisis in Paris has been "security first, refugees second".

Salam Kawakibi, deputy director with a Paris-based think tank called the Arab Reform Institute, also claimed that the violent attacks in Paris last weekend were an everyday occurrence for the people of Syria.

Mr Kawakibi was speaking at a conference entitled 'Forced to flee: conflict in Syria and the movement of people'.

Whilst showing pictures of the destruction of Syria's largest city, Aleppo, Mr Kawakibi was moved to tears, saying: "It's amazing, I see these pictures every day and… same impact."

He later added that since the attack: "It's easy to focus all of our attention on Daesh."

('Daesh' is an acronym and a term used to describe Isil in the Arab world).

On the attack in Paris, he said: "Of course, I am Syrian-French, I was very affected by what happened in Paris; but what happened in Paris, is happening every minute in Syria and nobody cares."

Earlier this year, it was estimated that well over 200,000 people had died in the civil war in Syria since 2011.

It is estimated that half of those killed in the conflict have been civilian casualties.

Mr Kawakibi also explained that people living in Damascus "sat in" in solidarity with the people of France when news of last weekend's attacks reached them.

The conference was held in conjunction with both the Institute for International Conflict Resolution and Reconstruction, at DCU and Trócaire.

The conflict in Syria and the response to the migrant crisis were some of the topics discussed at Albert College, in DCU.

Dr Paola Rivetti, a lecturer at the school of Law and Government in the university, spoke about the difficulties in tackling 'Islamophobia'.

"It's a huge problem, I really think it's a process that is very dependent on the geographical locations of the countries receiving the refugees.

"Ireland is more marginal and peripheral to the movement of people."

Dr Rivetti went on to underline the importance of education and integration in overcoming issues with xenophobia and 'Islamophobia'.

Meabh Smith, press officer with Trócaire also spoke at the event. She recently returned from a UN refugee camp in Serbia, where 1,000 migrants arrive daily.

Irish Independent

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