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The world must show concern, help alleviate suffering in Syria

COMMENTARY
By Editorial | September 28th 2015

The Syrian crisis, which started in March 2011, has not only portrayed the world as uncaring, it has specifically exposed some European countries as unmoved by the human suffering caused by this senseless war. The hordes of tired and often hungry men, women and children seeking asylum in Europe is heart-rending.  The world must rally together to offer them comfort.

Almost the entire Middle East and parts of Africa are experiencing turmoil occasioned by religious fundamentalists, particularly the Islamic State fighters, alternately known as the ISIS. This group grew rapidly in the period following the ouster and killing of Saddam Hussein after American forces invaded Iraq in 2003.

The ISIS and other Islamic fighters are said to get their sophisticated weapons from unscrupulous arms dealers in the West. To some extent therefore, the Western world inadvertently aided the ISIS in their exponential growth. It would thus be fair to innocent victims if Europe temporarily accommodated them as a permanent solution to the crisis is being sought.

To us in East Africa, the war might seem like a far-off occurrence, but the large displacement of people is threatening world peace and social order. It might at some point seriously affect oil production, with disastrous consequences to countries that rely on oil from the Middle East to run their economies. The United Nations Commissioner for Refugees ( UNHCR) says countries like Turkey, Germany, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq have had to take in more than 3 million Syrian refugees from as far  back as 2012 when people started fleeing a war that appears to have reached its climax.

UNHCR estimates show that over 100,000 people have died in the Syrian war since it started and more than 6.5 million have been displaced internally. Consequently, these people need urgent emergency assistance, which saw Pope Francis I call on Catholics and everybody else and the world at large to offer help while decrying the activities of arms dealers who continue to fuel the crisis.

Religious fundamentalism is threatening the entire world. In Nigeria, Boko Haram is wreaking havoc on large populations.

Back home, we have seen a number of youths, especially from the coastal region, join the ranks of Al Shabaab with disastrous results. Kenya has been a target of terrorist attacks as witnessed in the Westgate shopping mall attack, Mpeketoni, Mandera and Garissa university attacks. Several African Mission soldiers in Somalia have lost their lives even as citizens of Somalia live in constant fear. In October last year, 366 Eritreans fleeing hardship in their country died in a boat mishap near the Italian island of Lampedusa.

This must stop, but it can only be stopped if the entire world, each country in its own individual way, acts to confront growing Islamic fundamentalism. Not all the immigrants finding their way to countries within Africa and Europe are genuine refugees.

Some could even be ISIS recruits and fighters seeking to set up base in those countries and operate from within. This should provide the impetus to vigorously seek out the miscreants in society and give the world some peace.

Russia has sent its forces into Syria to lend a hand to the besieged Bashar-al-Assad regime. We can only hope suspicion between NATO and Russia will not stand in the way of seeking an end to human suffering in Syria and the entire world.

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