Five years of bloody crisis & conflict has taken a devastating toll on the people of Syria. Barely a week goes by without the violence and terror of this complex conflict making the headlines. What started as a peaceful cry for freedom has descended into a deadly mess, reaching well beyond the borders of Syria.
The impact of the fighting, as ever, is being most brutally felt by civilians. Since the beginning of the Syrian uprising in early 2011, we have documented and highlighted a horrific number of war crimes and crimes against humanity, mainly committed by government forces. Barrel bombs – oil drums or gas cylinders filled with explosives and metal fragments, plunged from helicopters are one of the biggest killers of civilians in Syria – in 2015 alone, they killed 2,000 men, women and children.
Our campaigning has a focus on the immediate crisis. In particular, the need to prevent human rights abuses, ensuring there is proper accountability, demanding freedom for detained Syrian activists, urging Europe’s leaders to welcome more Syrian refugees and helping amplify calls for increased humanitarian assistance and access. This reactive work sits within our long-term focus on a human rights vision for a new Syria in transition.
Key to this vision is our work to empower and mobilise peaceful Syrian activists to help them develop their own independent civil society and create a future where human rights are respected. Amnesty International UK has been doing this since early 2011 and for this website, we worked closely with Syrian media activists, Lamba Media Production. Following training and new equipment from Amnesty, they helped us collect 360° photography to document the devastation caused by barrel bombing on cities across Syria. Their brave work brings us one small step closer to holding the perpetrators of these atrocities to account.
The site is narrated by renowned Syrian activist and blogger, Razan Ghazzawi. This virtual reality platform is part of an enduring body of evidence of human rights abuses and provides a message of hope. Against all the odds, Syrian people – and civil society in particular – are still surviving inside Syria.