Over 180,000 victims of war in Syria and Iraq helped

The ARAMAIC RELIEF International “celebrated” its fifth anniversary at the Burgbachsaal in the city last Saturday evening when a moving documentary film showed those attending how desperate the situation was for victims of war in Aleppo in Syria.

The film showed Severiyos Aydin, the founder of ARI, amid the rubble of destroyed buildings, unable to find the right words to describe the dreadful scenes around him.

The 32-year-old, who lives in Baar, comes from a Christian Aramaic family with its roots in southeast Turkey. When conflict started in Syria in 2011, what perturbed him was that hardly anyone seemed to be doing anything to help persecuted minority groups. “I wanted to help,” he said, while admitting he had no experience in this area. “We aim to help where need is most urgent,” he continued, adding how he wanted administration of it all to be as simple as possible with everything transparent. “Those who donate can easily see how their money has been spent.”

Over the past five years, Aydin and his team have built up a large network, concentrating on providing help in situ. “When I go out there,” he explained to the hundred or so people attending the event, “I do not stay in hotels but with local people, hence I can get a better idea of all they are going through,” he said. Not that all this is easy for him to take in, “but helping helps”.

It is only right that Aydin is proud and thankful of the fact that some180,000 people in Syria and northern Iraq have been helped through his organisation, a similar version of which is also active in South Sudan. Two highlights in his campaign over the past five years have been his having had the opportunity to speak before the European Parliament and visit the Swiss Guard in Rome. Much use is made of social media, too, to publicise all what is being done and inform the public about what is planned for the future.

At present, those in need are being provided with basic foodstuffs and warm blankets. Furthermore, flats are being renovated and help for traumatised children sought. One sad point he had to mention was that life expectancy in these regions was falling, especially in the case of children, many of whom die from what elsewhere would be regarded as harmless illnesses; hence some funding goes to providing medication or paying for operations.

Not that the film showed solely scenes of desperation, scenes of happy and dancing children were shown, too, with others enjoying sweets distributed among them. “Despite all they are going through, it is good to see that the local people have not lost their sense of joy,” he concluded. All of which spurs him and his team to do yet more to help.

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