The conflict in Syria, a humanitarian perspective
Syria is one of the oldest countries in the world. Lying in the heart of the Middle East, the main language spoken by its citizens is Arabic. Syria borders five countries and the Mediterranean Sea. It has a population close to that of Australia's yet the size of the country is similar to Victoria.
Syria has had a vast amount of media coverage in the past 16 months because of the increasingly reported violence in the country. This violence erupted after alleged uprisings took place around the country calling for the end of the Syrian government's ruling.
Since March 2011 there has been media coverage of what is now known as the Arab spring. The Arab spring consisted of several uprisings against governments in different countries within the Middle East and North Africa. Each uprising included political conflict, a surge to power by different leaders and human suffering.
Egypt's uprising resulted in elections being held in a democratic fashion. In Syria, the transition has not been as swift as the Egyptian uprising and the conflict is ongoing. There have been reports of evacuations from many Syrian towns, and fighting between the government and the rebels continues.
Media reports from a political and military point of view have dominated the headlines for the majority of this fight. But the perspective of the Australian-Syrian community understandably focuses on the safety of their families back in Syria. Their concerns include the economic uncertainty the country is going through. Since the conflict began Syria has had international sanctions imposed on it, which have greatly affected its people.
Hatem* came from Syria to Australia to study. He fears for his family's safety and is concerned about their welfare. He says his family is safe but is having an increasingly hard time finding jobs in this time of economic hardship. Furthermore, prices of everyday items and groceries have doubled making the struggle harder for Hatem's family.
One hundred lira ($1.50 AUS) for a bunch of parsley. This is unheard of, exclaimed Hatem's mother when he spoke to her on the phone. His family's hardship has meant Hatem has had to take out loans and increase his casual working hours in order to support them through these tough times.
The other implications this conflict has had on the Australian-Syrian community lies in the uncertainty of being able to travel to Syria in the near future, and whether they will be able to see their family and loved ones.
Laila* has lived in Australia for over two decades and is fearful she may not be able to visit her ageing mother again. So as her telephone bills increase, Laila can only hope this conflict will end soon.
Members of the community allude to the fact that Ramadan is coming up. Ramadan is the holy month in the Muslim calendar when Muslims fast from dusk till dawn. Ramadan is meant to spread a message of kindness, peace and hope to all those who fast.
Brothers Omar* and Mohammed* insist Ramadan will be different this year. They believe that while all Muslims fast in the same manner during this holy period, the violence in Syria will taint the true meaning of this month and further separate different sects of Muslims.
The majority of the news headlines focus on the political and military implications of this struggle but the real suffering happens to ordinary people. People like me and you who want to eat breakfast in the morning, go to work and come back to their family and friends.
*Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality.