Friday, 13 March 2015

Turn the Lights Back on in Syria: fourth year of conflict

This Sunday, March 15, marks the fourth anniversary of the start of the bloody conflict in Syria.  I wanted to share “Afraid of the Dark”, a short video reminding people that the conflict is still going on and showing one of its repercussions.

Since the start of the war,  83% of all the lights in Syria have literally gone out. Analysing satellite images, scientists based at Wuhan University in China, in co-operation with the #withSyria coalition of 130 non-governmental organisations, have shown that the number of lights visible over Syria at night has fallen by 83% since March 2011. In cities like Aleppo, the situation is even more extreme – satellite images show that 97 percent of lights have gone out since 2011.

The video makers - BAFTA-winning agency Don’t Panic and production partners UNIT9 – wanted to use this little-thought off repercussion of the conflict as a symbol of the darkness and chaos in which the country has been plunged already four years ago.  Over 200,000 people have died and millions more have been forced to flee their homes.

Four years since the start of the crisis, tell world leaders that they must stand by Syrians

"It is a literal truth that 83% of Syria's lights have gone out since the start of the war," said Richard Beer, Creative Director of Don't Panic, "but the darkness that afflicts them has a metaphorical truth that goes deeper. We wanted to use this shocking statistic to tell the story of just how far Syria has fallen into darkness, in every conceivable way, despite UN resolutions and international outcry. The hero of our film, Khalid, could afford to be afraid of the dark four years ago; now he faces far worse every day, despite his own bravery. He, and all Syrians like him, need our help."

Directed by UNIT9’s Greg&Jacob, this video is part of an international campaign launched by the #withSyria coalition. The coalition is a movement of humanitarian and human rights organisations from around the world, including Oxfam, Amnesty, International Rescue Committee, and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), standing in solidarity with those caught in the conflict.

The #withSyria coalition launched this video alongside a global petition, calling on world leaders to ‘turn the lights back on in Syria’ by:

•           Prioritising a political solution with human rights at its heart;

•           Boosting the humanitarian response both for those inside Syria and refugees, including through increased resettlement;

•           Insisting that all parties put an end to attacks on civilians and stop blocking aid

A new report 'Failing Syria' released today by 21 humanitarian and human rights organisations accuses warring parties and powerful states of failing to achieve what three 2014 UN Security Council resolutions set out to do.