Activists gathered in Oxford last Saturday to protest against the oppression of starving civilians in Syria.
Holding placards demanding ‘Syria needs food not bombs’ and other messages over twenty people were present outside the Westgate Centre in Oxford centre.
The protest was in response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria where according to the UN there are at least 400,000 people living under siege. A UN aid convoy was able to reach the Syrian town of Madaya a week ago but organizer Abdhullah Allabuani, a Syrian national who recently moved to Oxford, said this was not enough. He said: ‘This food is just for once city, for twenty days. It isn’t a solution. People are starving to death.’
Since the protest the UN has called for even more drastic action to help trapped Syrians. A senior humanitarian official wrote to the government yesterday saying, “all options need to be on the table” including air drops of supplies over besieged Syrian towns.
Campaigners from Oxford University, Oxford Brookes and the wider Syrian community came together at the protest. The head of student lead group ‘Oxford for Syria’ Anna Simpson who was also involved stressed how important the issue was to locals: ‘The protest demonstrated how many people in Oxford want to offer support and solidarity to people suffering in Madaya, as well as demanding those victims are not forgotten.’
Mr Allabuani however did mention his disappointment at the turn out: ‘We expected a few more people, although many of the students will still be at home.’ Anna Simpson remained optimistic for movement emphasizing the importance of these shows of solidarity, ‘As a recognizable and influential community I think it’s essential we continue to use our strength and resources to call for aid drops to besieged civilians in Syria, as the humanitarian crisis inflicted by the Assad regime is set to continue in the coming months.’
Indeed as Mr Allabuani went on to elaborate, ‘But the main idea has been achieved – we were able to send the message that we are standing up for the Syrian people and putting pressure on the United Nations’.
Images: Toby Clyde