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If Surrey were Syria - Save the Children brings home horrors of war


The reality of living in a warzone has been brought home to people living in the UK in a remarkable stunt by a global aid agency.

Save The Children set up a checkpoint at a school in Surrey, denying access to pupils and parents.

Charity workers stripped local shops of food and staged a road block, pretending to hold up an ambulance carrying a sick child.

All the while, the reactions of the public were filmed.

Save The Children staged the stunt – with the full cooperation of the emergency services, shops and the school – to drive home to people the realities facing people in Syria.

Studies have shown that people react more keenly to a crisis abroad if they can imagine it happening here.

Hence the charity’s social experiment, see the video below, which aimed at helping people understand some of the reasons 4000 people – half of them children – are forced to flee Syria every day.

Actors were used to set up the scenarios, but the public reactions were genuine.

One mum, whose child was denied access to her school, said: “The gates were shut. I thought, why can’t my children go to school? I am getting emotional thinking about it. It made me realise that we do need to be aware, and make our children aware, of what is going on.”

More than 11 million people have fled their homes since the civil war began and 420,000 people are living under siege inside the country.

Some communities are blocked off from essential supplies and families are having to forage for food to survive.

Citizens caught smuggling aid into cities under siege, risk being persecuted and potentially killed.

Save The Children said that when these scenarios were faced by Surrey citizens, it was unacceptable to passers-by, who risked their own safety to uphold the rights of their children and community - rights to food, health care and schooling.

Justin Forsyth, chief executive of Save the Children, said: “A tiny fraction of Syrian refugees make it to Europe. The poorest, the sick and the elderly remain under siege, barrel-bombed, gassed and shot, starved of food and medicine.

“Despite the generosity of the UK government and others, more widely, money to assist millions living in refugees camps is drying up. These families now face an extreme choice, to return to a war zone or risk drowning as they are smuggled into Europe. If the average European citizen would not stand for being cut off from food, healthcare and schooling, why should Syrian families?”



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