March 2016 marks 5 years of war in Syria, and the death toll is rising. The most recent report from the Syrian Centre for Policy Research (SCPR) brings the total to 470,000 dead, 11.5% of the Syrian population. Moreover, 4.6 million are registered refugees, 6.6 million are internally displaced, and 400,000 are living under siege.
The United Nations suspended the Syria talks on February 4, citing the complications the government siege places on having a real dialogue. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov agreed to a “cessation of hostilities,” in Munich on February 12, although it is yet to be seen how it will be executed and if all parties will cooperate.
The international community must use this pause as an opportunity to revise its approach to the Syrian peace process. Amidst the violence, thousands of Syrians are working for peace in their communities. They have the guts to fight for their vision without using guns. The voices of Syrians living in the midst of war are missing.
Bring the voices of Syrian civil society and peace actors to the negotiating table!