Corona at a Time of War

In late January China sealed off Wuhan an industrial centre of about 11 million people . Though the Chinese government's actions have been described as "Draconian" by some, with the passage of time they have also proven to be right.

As corona virus spread may countries tried to follow in China's footsteps but were unable to and so the virus raged that the world might witness an immense corona virus explosion as reports indicate that in some poorer countries corona virus remains undetected or if detected has not been treated with the seriousness that it deserves.

The effects of the pandemic have not been limited to the health sector only but have had a volcanic effect on the world as we know it.

It revealed weaknesses in both countries and individuals  where so many countries hid behind the glamour of their state of the art technologies and their capitalist systems, corona came forcing them into the nude and depriving them of what they had thought of as "inalienable rights". Maybe corona will change world order and countries that consider themselves in the lead will reconsider that claim. For to be in the lead is not only to have an abundance of guns and bombs, neither is it the ability to bully other countries into submissiveness but it is to have the backbone to stand straight in times of duress. It is never to forget our human compass, but foremost it is the ability to hold on to our principles, our ethics and our morals.

 With the rise of corona crime has in general plummeted. However, insecure and afraid people  have resorted to theft to secure their needs. Malls have been broken into and their goods stolen (Providence Mall, U.S.A. March23). Panic buying has led to many buying far more then their needs require, thus depriving others. But it is a more serious crime that should be looked into, for it seems that piracy has retuned to the forefront of the crime list. Countries have resorted to committing acts of piracy, stopping ships loaded with medical equipment and stealing what is on board. The U.S. was accused of diverting a shipment of masks intended for the German police. Others ships destined for particular countries never docked in the ports of these countries and their cargo was stolen.

Blame was distributed and distributed unjustly – China was blamed for the spread of corona when in reality the response of  European countries and the U.S.A was sluggish almost slow motion. Panic spread like wildfire and attacked health systems that were unprepared for the onslaught. The U.S. and the E.U. blamed each other and Trump's decision to ban travel to the European Union (except for the UK, which has a rising number of infections) created an antagonistic atmosphere.

Bitterness spread amongst the countries of the E.U. Spain and Italy felt that they had been betrayed by the rest of the E.U. Italy witnessed the burning of EU flags on its streets, as well as Spain.

Russia and China however have rushed into help with China sending shipments of necessary medical supplies to European countries and even to the United States (though Trump has unceasingly referred to corona virus as the "Chinese Virus").

The actions of both Russia and China have clearly portrayed to western countries that stereotyping is downright wrong and that they should, post corona, re think major aspects of intra European countries and should also specifically re think their strained relations with Russia and China. In this particular aspect capitalism has lost the war.

In the Middle East dealing with corona was never prioritized until late March. With so much fighting and confrontations going on, corona was dealt with as if it were a hazy danger one that couldn't possibly be more threatening than all the shooting, killing and explosions that were already happening.  As a young reporter from Aleppo (Lama Al Khaly) put it "we have witnessed so much horror, seen so much bloodshed, prayed so much for our kidnapped ones and wept endlessly over our martyred loved ones that it has become so difficult to grapple with the idea of fighting an invisible enemy like the corona virus". The idea of self isolation for Syrians who have lost their homes due to terrorism is sadly almost laughable. Many large families are cramped into one room with almost no help from UN humanitarian organizations and so the idea is simply not workable.

However the Syrian government took the necessary precautionary methods thus  reducing the risk of corona virus infections. It imposed a curfew, reduced the work load, banned all kinds of gatherings whether for joy or sorrow and suspended prayers. It will be a shy Ramadan this year for the Syrian lacking in its usual celebratory style. Even the ritual of Haj has been suspended this year (Haj is approximately two months and ten days after the end of Ramadan). Though banning Friday communal prayer and Sunday mass are thorny issues for most Syrians, they were accepted as they came within the package of precautionary measures in the fight against corona.

However for Syria the problem of fighting corona is for more complex and requires much more than imposing a curfew or a ban. Heavy sanctions imposed on Syria including ones in the pharmaceutical- field have led to shortages in many medicines (not forgetting that many factories that were specialized in the manufacture of medicines, mainly located in Aleppo were either dismantled and transported to Turkey or simply destroyed by the war. Syria prior to the war covered 97% of its own medical needs, even exporting to Arab and foreign countries). The U.S. and western medical sanctions on Syria have resulted in Syria having fewer ventilators then the bare minimum required- fewer raw medical supplies from which to produce effective medicine and fewer medical instrument. These sanctions are pointless as they have in no way affected the flow of the war but they have hit civilians hard-which makes them coercive and downright cruel. This collective punishment of a whole population during a pandemic is simply barbaric. Even the passage of aid ships to Syria has been forbidden.

There have been many calls made by Syria's representative to the U.N to lift off international sanctions against Syria as they obstruct the country's efforts to fight the corona virus.

Others joined in call for lifting the sanctions against Syria. Like Chine, Russia, the EU parliament and many other countries. The World Health Organization has also asked that sanctions be lifted off Syria. Up till now all these calls have fallen on deaf ears, as corona continues to spread worldwide.

Like all counties in the world the economy of Syria has been adversely affected. Many Syrians are day laborers and that pay has stopped with the current Corona. Businesses have shrunk and restaurateurs are out of work as all restaurants, coffee shops and eateries have been closed more than a month. Gingerly, Syria is reopening again, but the situation on the ground remains tense and Syrians are in need of a solution that is hard coming- a solution not only related to the corona virus but one that will ease their lives and allow them the medicaments they deserve to lighten the suffering of the ill.    

Editor in Chief

Reem Haddad                                   

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