March 2020

CURRENT SITUATION

SYRIA-LEBANON
In March, Lebanon has almost reached economic bankruptcy, in fact the country has not been able to pay $ 1.2 billion in bonds: it is practically certain that the economic hardship of the country, linked to the pandemic emergency, will significantly affect the ability to guarantee basic services to its citizens and more than a million of "hosted" refugees.
The first case of Covid-19 was reported in March, causing large-scale closure of schools, universities and public places, and was followed by recommendations of self-isolation for anyone who presents symptoms of the virus.
It is almost impossible to respect self-isolation measures, as well as adequate hygiene standards, for those who live in poor conditions in refugee camps or in crumbling, overcrowded buildings. Many Syrians are torn between the tough decision to continue working, challenging the order to "stay indoors" and risking arrest and contagion or expulsion.

Meanwhile, in northern Syria, after the insistent invitation of Guterres, the UN Secretary General, a truce between Russia and Turkey became effective on 6 March, with the stop of the bombings on the Idlib region. Unfortunately, the truce lasted only a few weeks, and already on 24 March, rockets were launched to some villages in the Idlib countryside where the properties of several farmers were subsequently set on fire. In this critical context of incessant warfare, the spread of Covid-19 in Syria further prompted the Syrian Commission of Inquiry and UN Special Envoy for Syria Pedersen to call for a new ceasefire in the country.

SHARING, WORK AND NEWS ABOUT VOLUNTEERS

In the first week of March, the Operazione Colomba’s volunteers lived in Beirut in order to deepen the already established relations with some Human Rights activists, Lebanese friends and associations.
The days spent in the capital also gave the opportunity to learn more about the protest movements that have filled the central square since October 2019.
In the second week of the month, the volunteers shared the days at the refugee camp, following two cases in particular. The first case concerns a young father who, after years of torture in the Syrian prisons from which he was recently released, now needs medical and psychological support, offered only in Tripoli. Volunteers then often accompanied this man and his wife along the road to ensure safer passage through the checkpoint.
The second case concerns a Syrian woman from the refugee camp who risks losing her sight due to an illness that can only be cured through an expensive operation. Volunteers accompanied the woman to several clinics and they are trying to raise funds to ensure that she and her family have a less strenuous future.  
In March, because of Covid-19, no new volunteers were able to reach the group, the Humanitarian Corridors were blocked and, in the end, in mid-month even the last remaining volunteers had to leave the country because of the pandemic.
At a distance, the volunteers continue to keep informed and listen to the people living in the refugee camp or in other areas and regions of the country, trying to understand from Italy how to support them and make their voice heard even if far away. Moreover, the sudden forced immobility and the  time passed at home gave space to new ideas, such as Italian language workshops for Syrians and an Arabic course of two different levels held by and for volunteers.
At the same time, some volunteers created a spirituality path to share together the moods and the directions that everyone sees in this period very out of our "ordinary".
"We have bodies in distant lands, but our hearts are still really close to each other”.

The Peace Proposal for Syrians

The activity aimed at establishing connection and networking between activists interested in implementing and creating humanitarian disarmed areas continues. A first online meeting has been held with people met during several trips in Europe.

More info: Syrian Refugees Peace Proposal