Syrians living in New Zealand are feeling anger and disappointment at the lack of action taken by the international community over the murder and mayhem taking place there.
Today marks a year since initial uprisings were brutally repressed by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Auckland Syrians will mark the anniversary with a vigil in Aotea Square on Saturday, where they gather every week.
Those concerned for relatives in the terror-torn country must rely on the media for information since communications with the nation are unstable.
“It is very difficult. The city of Hama, for example, has been cut off for a month now,” says Abdul Elah, a member of the not-for-profit organisation Syrian Solidarity.
The New Zealand resident of 17 years says people trying to contact relatives in particularly hard-hit cities such as Homs, Daraa and Idlib, must refer to Damascus first.
“But even then there is no guarantee of getting through.”
Syrian ambassador Tamman Sulaiman, based in Canberra, the closest Syrian embassy to New Zealand, was not available for comment about the status of communications between Australia and Syria.
But Ali Akil, a University of Auckland graduate and an organiser of Syrian Solidarity, says what is shown in the news is merely a glimpse of the carnage.
Media coverage of the region has been suppressed by the Syrian security forces.
The Syrian community New Zealand is relatively small. The 2006 census identified 354 individuals from Syria and another 1683 individuals as Assyrian.
Syrian Solidarity has written letters to Prime Minister John Key as well as “every member of -parliament”, says Akil.
“We understand that the New Zealand Government is working with the international community and allies to put diplomatic pressure on the regime. We really thank them for that and appreciate that, but we are asking them for more. We need humanitarian and medical aid.”
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully, condemned the attacks in Homs on behalf of the New Zealand Government in early February.
The situation is escalating in terms of the humanitarian crisis, and British Prime Minister David Cameron warned Syria was now at risk of civil war.
Syrian security forces have reportedly gunned down and tortured peaceful protesters – among them women and children.
“Officially, more than 10,000 people [have been] killed. Sixty-four thousand people are missing – most of them are killed. It’s just that we don’t know where the bodies are.”
The 10,000 deaths reported by Akil is higher than CNN’s reported UN estimate of 7500, but such numbers are not independently verifiable.
In order to draw more attention, Syrian Solidarity holds weekly assemblies at Aotea Square on Saturdays.