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Spare a thought for Syria’s children

Heartbreaking sight: a Syrian doctor treating a child after the chemical attack, at a makeshift hospital, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, Syria (Photograph provided by Edlib Media Centre/AP)

Spring for most of us signals a time for a fresh beginning, as flowers blossom and birds chirp as though they want to spread the news that life is meant to be enjoyed. Here in Bermuda, while we have problems, our children attend school daily, without fear of being harmed by weapons of war, including deadly chemicals that kill in the most horrifying manner.

Our island home in the middle of the Atlantic is so small it is merely a dot on the global map, but nevertheless Bermudians are not unmindful of the suffering in many parts of the world.

While we may not have the voice of larger countries, most of the people here share the deep concerns of those around the world who wonder why so many children suffer and die under regimes that seem unstoppable, despite the United Nations which monitors developments globally.

Although it was not the first time gruesome pictures of men, women and children could be seen twisting and groaning in streets littered with debris from bombed-out structures, the recent scenes from Syria were more than heartbreaking. We can only hope something can be done to end the plight of children who have never had a day of peace in a land where the sound of explosions is a way of life.

After millions of lives were lost in two world wars and subsequent conflicts across the globe, the human race still struggles with finding a way to halt brutal killings by groups who seek dominance by military power and who use fear as a weapon.

International tensions are high with Russia supporting the Assad Government, and America engaged in providing support for those opposed to the Syrian Government.

Any attempt by the US to topple the Syrian dictatorship by force could put the two nuclear powers on a collision course. That perhaps is why the Assad regime has little hesitation in using banned chemical weapons. Of course they deny this, claiming the rebels are the ones with the deadly material.

Making matters even worse when it comes to world tension, is the unpredictable leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, who has made it no secret that he intends to attack the US.

His determination to build a rocket capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to American soil, is causing considerable concern with the Pentagon.

China has long been a supporter of North Korea, as America is heavily engaged in keeping South Korea, a key ally, protected from any aggression from the north. The world watches this horror story with an uneasy feeling that one wrong move could make the unthinkable reality. Of course, nations with nuclear weapons are fully aware that there would be nothing to celebrate if such weapons were unleashed in a conflict. Mutual destruction should never be an option. Adding to the plight of children who will have no spring, are those millions in parts of Africa, especially in Sudan, where each hour a child dies of starvation or disease. Major efforts are under way to relieve the suffering by groups willing to risk their own lives in hopes of making a difference. However, the situation is so critical, that many perish before food and water can reach them. Men, women and children simply become statistics in the dark side of life on Earth.

Here in Bermuda, we have much to be grateful for. Yes, we have problems which is a part of life, but with our limited land space and a small population, there should be nothing out of bounds for solving, providing we are able to work closer together as one people.

This spring, our children will be able to enjoy the fun and games the warm weather brings, with no need to fear the devastation taking place in so many other parts of the world. Bermuda has toiled through testing periods of social injustice in reaching a stage where diversity and learning to accept each other despite differences is recognised as the only way to continue our growth towards a healthier and productive society for all.

Meanwhile we should pause and remember those children in Syria who look to the skies not for kites, but for deadly jets that make their lives an endless nightmare.

This column was written before news broke of a US missile strike on a Syrian airbase in response to the chemical weapon attack