Yesterday, one civilian was killed every two hours in Syria. That is in one day.
You don't want to hear the stats. I don't even want to write the stats. Over 400,000 dead. What does that mean? Aren't these people just killing each other?
No they're not. And here's why you should care.
If you were in that situation, would you want the rest of the world to remain silent? To forget about you? The only reason you are not in that situation is by some sheer chance of birth lottery, you were born in Australia.
I'm lucky. You're lucky.
But I'm also so incredibly despondent and feel utterly helpless. I am Australian -- but of Syrian origin. My heart is broken. Wars only end when enough people call to end them.
So here's hoping...
While the situation is complex, dire, a complete cluster f**k, Russia has a chance to show leadership. Maybe even be a hero.
The well-respected Syrian Network of Human Rights says that for the past five years, over 94 percent of deaths are from the Syrian regime. Where does ISIS sit? 1.3 percent of deaths.
More than 11,000 barrel bombs made of scrap metal and high explosives have been rolled out of regime helicopters onto hospitals, homes and schools since the UN banned them. These aerial attacks are the biggest killer of civilians. They drive extremism. According to NGOs working on documentation, casualties from aerial strikes, ground shelling and explosions count for over 50 percent of total documented deaths in 2014, a substantial part of which are caused by barrel bombs.
Assad wants you to think he is fighting terrorists. But he let ISIS metastasize so we would think he is the safer option. I hate to call it, but most of the international community has been played.
And it won't be until Assad is out of the picture that Syrians would even feel safe enough to return.
Imagine the population of Sydney completely gone. That is what has happened in Syria -- 5 million refugees have fled the country. And more that 6 million have lost their homes within Syria and are internally displaced.
Having spoken to dozens of Syrian refugees at Zaatari refugee camp, they said they would never return to Syria while Assad was still there.
So if Europe, the United States and Australia want to see any end to the refugee crisis, not only do they have to address the civil war; they have to address Assad.
And Russia can do this.
Putin is not wedded to Assad who, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov stated bluntly, "is not an ally of Russia".
So it is up to Russia to exert enough pressure for Assad to step down.
Obama has refused to demonstrate any legitimate leadership on this issue. Maybe a resurgent Russia can?
The refugees living beyond Syria's borders will not return if they do not feel safe. Until these people have their voices heard, until the international community starts factoring in their concerns, their solutions, their hopes, we will continue to see the Syrian civil war play out into a Cold War maelstrom and a worsening refugee crisis.
Finally, how will our future generations judge us if we continue to watch this slaughter? Don't forget about Alan Kurdi's image that is seared into your memory. Galvanise that anguish into a real demand to save lives: stopping the barrel bombs and neutralising the biggest killer of Syrian civilians.
Before you go back to the rest of your day and the boring election campaign, do something that matters. Make your voice heard.Suggest a correction