14 Feb 2023
Syrian community and organisations launch ‘Syria House’ in Trafalgar Square to honour earthquake victims.
On Tuesday 14 February (5pm-8pm), a new temporary community space in Trafalgar Square (London) will open to the public for three days, inviting people to join in remembrance of Syrian earthquake victims and show solidarity to families of those still missing following the catastrophic Syria-Türkiye earthquakes.
Organised by the Syrian community in the UK and British-based Syrian civil society organisations, the space was opened following a special event on Tuesday 14 February attended by His Majesty King Charles III, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, Leader of Westminster City Council, Adam Hug, and government officials.
More than 37,000 people have lost their lives in the catastrophic earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria. Hundreds of thousands of injured and more missing. So many are now mourning the loss of their loved ones, as entire areas have been destroyed – also causing further displacement in a region already proved by war. With no official space in London that represents the Syrian people, The Syria House will serve as an open hub of support and solidarity.
Salah Asmar, a project planning manager at the White Helmets, who lost his family under the rubble in Antakya, said: “My family spent seven days under the rubble until their bodies were pulled out. While I appreciated the support from my friends and the community here in the UK, unfortunately I was unable to go and search for my family, nor to see them before they were interred. It breaks my heart that I am unable to bid farewell to my family.”
“We are immensely grateful for the UK public’s generous support and solidarity but international aid has been slow to reach affected areas inside Syria and humanitarian needs on the ground are still great. We need further support to ensure people affected get the assistance they need,” Mazen Gharibah, Executive Director of the Syrian British Consortium.
Waad al-Kateab, Syrian activist, filmmaker and Co-Founder of Action For Sama adds, “Syria House, this home away from home in London, is so important. We’ve witnessed so many crimes with our own eyes. We never thought we would survive. We buried friends and loved ones with our own hands. We’ve been displaced from our homes. Yet, we feel so shocked by this catastrophe. It’s different now, as we can’t be with our families and the ones we love. It’s different because we as Syrians have been left alone again, even in this natural disaster.”
“Many of the complications in the international response to the earthquake in Syria today would have been addressed had Syrians had a legitimate and credible government to work with them. Only a political solution according to UNSC resolution 2254 can bring justice to the Syrians; victims of the quake, 12 years of conflict, and decades of oppression,” explains Sawsan Abou Zainedin, CEO of Madaniya Civil Society Network.
SYRIA HOUSE OPENING TIMES: Weds 15 - Fri 17 February, 12:00-20:00 Vigils, 19:00-20:00