Edinburgh humanitarian encourages others to mark anniversary of Syria conflict by walking 154km
Scots are being encouraged to mark the 10th anniversary of the Syria conflict by walking 154km – the distance people fleeing Damascus travelled to reach a refugee camp in Jordan.
More than 500,000 Syrians have been killed and the UK Government has announced a fresh round of sanctions against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Humanitarian hero Craig Cowan, is an aid worker at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan for Edinburgh-based charity Mercy Corps.
Craig, 32, from Edinburgh, is urging people to take part in a Move for Mercy Corps fundraiser – and walk, run or cycle 154km over up to 30 days to help some of the 11 million Syrians forced to flee their homes.
He said: “The 154km represent a journey most of us can only imagine making to safety.
“Even in peacetime when there is a ceasefire, you still hear reports of schools and hospitals being bombed. People are trying to get their lives back on track and at the same time people are being killed by bombs or preventable diseases.
“It’s so traumatic for the families, for the communities, and for our staff to see this happening again.”
The UK Government will impose travel bans and asset freezes on six members of the Assad’s regime, including the Foreign Minister, to ensure they do not benefit from the UK in any way.
The individuals represent different parts of the regime and all are responsible for repressing the Syrian people.
It continues to treat Syrians with brutality and violence, including the horrific use of chemical weapons.
The new sanctions are the first against the Syrian leadership under the UK’s autonomous sanctions regime. They follow 353 targeted sanctions listings on Syria that are already being implemented.
Close to Jordan’s northern border with Syria, Zaatari is now home to almost 80,000 Syrian refugees, supported with 32 schools, eight medical clinics and 58 community centres.
Craig, who is originally from Blairgowrie, Perthshire, added: “Jordan has been very welcoming, but its economy had problems when the crisis started. Now they have one of the world’s biggest refugee populations.
“Opportunities are really low for refugees, so Mercy Corps does a lot of work in the camps and with those living in communities, ranging from basic needs such as making sure people have enough food to health services and shelter.
“We work with children with disabilities, making sure there are ramps into schools or modifications to the desks. We also provide mental health support to help kids deal with the trauma and stress.”
The Syria Crisis has been the UK Government’s biggest ever humanitarian response, committing over £3.5 billion of support.
Minister for Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly said: “I applaud the efforts of Craig Cowan and many other fundraisers in Scotland who will walk, run or cycle 154km to raise awareness of the brutal repression, war and suffering the Syrian people have experienced.
“As the UK pushes for a diplomatic solution, we’ll keep delivering support to people in Syria and in refugee camps. Since 2012, we’ve provided over 28 million food rations, 20 million medical consultations and 14 million vaccines.”
For more info on Move for Mercy Corps, please visit the website.