It’s five years since civil war broke out in Syria. During those five years, the country has been torn apart by tragedy and chaos. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian people have been killed and millions more have been displaced in the brutal conflict between Assad and those opposed to his rule – not to mention the emergence of the Islamic State jihadist militants who capitalised on the chaos and took control of large swathes of Syria and Iraq. The brutality of the conflict, the horrific blockades of cities, the deployment of chemical weapons, the evidence of war crimes on all sides and the confusion has destroyed much of this once proud nation.
As the fighting has intensified, the humanitarian crisis has grown and has alerted the world beyond Syria’s borders to what’s happening within. Over five million people are believed to have fled the country since the start of the war, most of them women and children. Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey have struggled to cope with one of the largest refugee exoduses in history and about one in ten Syrian refugees have sought safety in Europe, leading to the tragic scenes over the last year of people drowning on European shores. These are people who five years ago were happily living in Syrian cities like Aleppo, Al-Raqqah and Homs, cities which have now been virtually destroyed in the conflict.
Banter on Syria has invited a number of interested parties along to discuss the lessons of the last five years. International aid organisation GOAL‘s chief executive Barry Andrews, Médecins Sans Frontières Ireland director Jane-Ann McKenna and author of My Home is Your Home: A Journey round Syria and travel writer Mary Russell will talk about the human and cultural cost of the conflict, the current state of play as they see it, their fears about what’s yet to come and what can be done to bring about some semblance of relief from a conflict which seems both senseless and without end.
The small print: Banter on Syria will take place at MVP (Clanbrassil St., Dublin 8 ) on Wednesday March 9. Doors open at 6pm and the discussion, which
will be followed by an audience Q&A, will commence at 6.30pm. Tickets can be booked here.