In Homs, Civilians Want More Than Aid
HOMS – Nearly 600 days have passed since the Syrian government laid siege to neighborhoods in Homs. Now residents of those areas hope that concessions made this week in Geneva conference will help the approximately 250 families who need to be evacuated.
Abo Fouad, an elderly man who lost his two sons during the conflict, calls on all residents who have enough food to give their extra food to others until the Geneva conference is over. He says he believes that Geneva will bring Syria closer to a political solution.
Most people in these besieged areas say they have not paid attention to Geneva, but there are others who have been anticipating it in hopes it will bring an end to the conflict.
Abo Ammar, a thirtysomething man from besieged Homs, tries to remember some of the names he keeps hearing in the news in conversation. “Let us see what Kerry and Ban Ki-Moon will achieve after all that talk about worrying over the future of Syria,” he says. “I keep hearing them say they are worried and then nothing happens.”
The vast majority of citizens on the ground here reject the conference because they say it goes against the basic principles of the Syrian revolution, providing a means to further divide Syria. There has been widespread anger on the ground towards an international community Syrians say is “re-legitimizing” the Assad government by treating it as a proper negotiating partner.
Others draw a parallel with the decades-long peace negotiations between Palestine and Israel.
Say the word Geneva in front of Abo Fahmi and it is enough to provoke his wrath. The 25-year-old says he does not care about the diplomats gathered in Geneva, or what they will decide.
“Those people do not represent us, they do not live here. Each one of them is affiliated with some country, so do not wait for them to solve any of our problems. We are the ones who live here,” he says.
Sameer, a law school graduate and resident of besieged Homs, adds that “the revolution could not benefit from Geneva … this is all the same steps that all the international conspiracies have gone through to divide many countries into multiple entities.”
Today the biggest quests on the ground here are for both sides to release their detainees, to end the sieges in areas like Homs and to allow humanitarian aid to reach those stranded.
Activists here have written and signed a statement calling for ending the siege – not only bringing some aid and relief.
The voice of families remains unheard when compared to voices of military and political leaders. For civilians, the most important thing is a solution that will end their tragedies, even if it offers some concessions in exchange with a new chance at life for their children.
All are waiting for a solution that will end the siege – but each in his own way, according to his principles – whether political or military solutions, or even to leave the country as soon as possible.
This article was translated from Arabic by Zain Frayha.