Investigations | 27 Oct 2014

Khawla Dunia lives in the Lebanese capital Beirut operating, since the start of the revolution, in the field of humanitarian relief. She keeps her days busy organizing material and in-kind assistance provided by her organization "SOS Now," as well as the small team working with her in Lebanon, Oyoon Souria [Syria’s Eyes]. 

Khawla opts to leave aside her original work as a writer most of the time. She now merely jots down her Damascene diaries on small Beirut notepads, whilst insisting that the act of writing is, in principle, revolutionary. 

Khawla shuns numerous requests for interviews and TV appearances that wish to host "top opposition" figures. She does so as she refuses to present herself on a sectarian basis, telling Radio Rozana: "I am a Syrian opponent of the regime, regardless of any other affiliation."

‘Politicization’ of Relief 

Dunia is constantly working on trying to extricate relief work for politics. She therefore strictly refuses to hold any position in the opposition National Coalition, or the interim government; considering that the real problem lies in the persistent attempts of opposition organizations to "politicize” relief activities. 

Dunia says: "The true tragedy lies in the fact that the majority of the Syrian people is in need of relief, with half of the population being in need of very urgent relief. This, in fact, requires huge efforts and very large capabilities." Dunia adds: "The capabilities to cover these existing needs are, in reality, unavailable. The other problem is that there are displaced people in the regime-controlled areas who are, thus, subject to the terms, conditions, and mechanisms for aid distribution imposed upon them by the regime."

Dunia confirms that the Syrian regime appropriates all forms of relief that reach its areas. It then sets conditions that suit it, to which global organizations actually accede. Dunia sees that the United Nations’ current trend is towards coordination with the regime on relief sent to Syria. 

Lebanon: Anxiety... 

Dunia describes the situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon as being the worst among other countries: "There are one and a half million Syrians here. There are aid-related problems, child education problems, as well as a large number of assembly points, making it more difficult for us as organizations to cover." 

The situation of Syrians in Lebanon is similar to their situation in Syria in 2011: "No one knows when things will change. No one can be certain of the stability of the situation, as local Lebanese political instability and polarization govern our daily existence.” 

As all Syrians in Lebanon, she is closely following the local political changes, anticipating—and dreading—that moment when it is the end of the road, without any alternatives. Today, fear is overpowering Syrians in their countries of asylum. 

The Price of Revolution

Khawla Dunia still believes in the Syrian revolution. She seems to possess patience and perseverance which grant her belief in the certainty that this is going to be "a very long journey," and that there will be "a huge price to be paid." 

But she is also certain that Bashar al-Assad is "a lie as everyone, including himself, knows." She is also certain that it will not be long before Syrians return, as it is impossible for half the Syrians to remain outside their country. Dunia is confident in a “much hoped for return to Syria, after the fall of Bashar al-Assad."

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