03/31/2015 02:18 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Why We Can Make a Difference in Syria


It's now been 10 years since this photo was taken.

It has followed me to every single computer screen I have had in the last decade.

It's a time I remember fondly: waiting for the bus at the station in Homs on the way to Aleppo.

And it is with a pang in my heart that every time I look at this picture I am now reminded by the absolute tragedy that is the Syria crisis.

How did the destruction and horror get to this point? How was it, that a decade ago, two single girls could travel so freely and safely through all the incredible sites in Syria feeling completely in awe of all the history, beauty and welcoming people surrounding us?

I come from a Syrian family; we live in Australia. I am so incredibly lucky and grateful for the life I have. I feel completely helpless about what is going on in Syria. Even my mum says to me: "Ranya, your father speaks to our relatives in Syria and constantly updates me on events. I don't want to know. I don't want to hear about it anymore. Because what can I do? Just sit here and watch?"

I have to admit, I have gone from being completely engaged on the crisis to being completely disengaged.

I too am frustrated.

But I'm not prepared to give up.

I saw Selma on the weekend. And I couldn't believe how far the civil rights movement had come. We now have the first African American President of the United States. While I was watching this film and learning about the struggle of basic freedoms I thought how impossible the task ahead must have felt for those moving mountains to achieve them.

And in that struggle, I realised that as citizens of the world, we couldn't give up on Syria. Yes, it seems impossible, yes IS seems to have taken over the whole discourse, but we are smarter than that.

We know Assad has let IS thrive. Even the Secretary of State, John Kerry has said:

"One of our judgements is there is evidence that Assad has played footsie with them [IS], and he has used them as a tool of weakening the opposition. He never took on their headquarters, which were there and obvious, and other assets that they have. So we have no confidence that Assad is either capable of or willing to take on ISIL."

So what better way to take IS out of the equation, than by ensuring they are not left to thrive? The destruction that is being caused in Syria is unconscionable.

Systemic torture.

Bludgeoning barrel bombs.


All of this has to stop. Half of Syria's population are displaced: either internally displaced or as refugees outside its borders.

I need you.

I need you to build our collective voice to demand action from the UN Security Council in making these indiscriminate bombs stop.

Barrel bombs - sometimes filled with chlorine - are the biggest killer of civilians in Syria today. The White Helmets are unarmed and neutral rescue workers that saved more than 12,000 people from the attacks in Syria, but there are many they cannot reach.

Its head, Raed Saleh says, "There are children trapped in rubble we cannot hear. For them, the UN Security Council must follow through on its demand made a year ago to stop the barrel bombs by introducing a 'no-fly zone' if necessary."

A no-fly zone is the only way to stop more destruction. If there was a no-fly zone, the Homs bus station in this picture would still be there. It wouldn't be buried in the rubble of hopelessness and despair.

Together, let's show the people of Syria that we haven't forgotten them. Join me in calling for a no-fly zone.

Because if we can stand together and show those leaders that dither and sway that we demand action, we can make a difference.