Silent vigil planned in Toronto to draw attention to mounting violence in Syria
Event follows UNICEF's blank statement, which the organization later explained by saying it no longer had words to express its outrage.
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Local activists are gathering in silence to send their message loud and clear: Words are not enough to stop the escalating violence in Syria.
Nearly 100 people have signed up on Facebook to attend a silent candlelight vigil this Friday in memory of hundreds of Syrians killed this week in Eastern Ghouta. The event is one of many gatherings happening in Canadian cities.
"I almost don't believe in protests and vigils anymore, but at the same time it's just so hard not to do anything when you see what's happening. It's absolute insanity," said Bayan Khatib, a local Syrian-Canadian activist and one of the organizers of Friday's event.
"It's so hard to believe that the world just sits and watches. There's half a million people under siege, with no access to food, water or proper medicine, and now they're being bombed."
Human-rights organizations working inside Syria reported earlier this week that forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad carried out aerial bombing over Eastern Ghouta, where more than 400,000 civilians have been under siege for years, according to The Associated Press. More than 250 people were killed, children among them. It's against international rules of war to attack such places.
Following the attacks, the UN children's fund UNICEF issued a blank statement, later saying it no longer had words to express its outrage.
"What we need is an immediate political solution to the conflict. We need the grave violations against children to stop," said UNICEF-Canada's president and CEO David Morley in a statement to Metro.
"We need the sieges to be lifted. We need unconditional humanitarian access and financial support to help those in need. And we need it all yesterday."
Recent indiscriminate attacks have also targeted medical facilities. According to a press release from the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations, which provides free medical assistance to Syrians inside the conflict zones, a total of 13 hospitals were hit by barrel bombs and artillery strikes over the past few days.
Khatib and other local activists are demanding more humanitarian assistance and for the international community to pressure Russia to stop supporting Assad.
"Everybody knows what's going on, everything has been said, but words fall flat," she said.
If you go:
The vigil takes place Friday at Dundas Square, starting at 5:30 p.m.
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