Giving thanks to those nations that are helping Syrian people
As the criminal Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria and its Kremlin backers bomb civilians and hospitals in southern Syria, creating 270,000 new refugees, it's time to bring attention once more to the humanitarian disaster taking place.
The southern Daraa Province in Syria is where I am from, before moving to Odesa in 1980. Syria, the place of my birth, remains very close to my heart.
My independent and democratic home region in Syria is also the birthplace of the peaceful protests against Assad's dictatorship in 2011. These peaceful actions turned into a revolution, which is ongoing seven years later, because of Assad's cruel violence against his own people — violence that has included chemical weapon attacks and barrel bombings that target innocent women and children, that destroy hospitals and schools and that show no regard for human life. These are war crimes that must be punished.
Now southern Syria is on the brink of a humiliating surrender to Assad as civilians, with nowhere to go, live in tents under the hot sun near the Israeli and Jordanian borders. Assad's war against his own people has killed at least 700,000 Syrians, forced another 6 million to relocate to find increasingly scarce safe areas inside Syria and it has sent another 6 million people fleeing abroad.
Sadly, the world is doing almost nothing to stop Assad or his heartless backers, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Iranian regime.
But many nations have opened their hearts — and their borders — to take in Syrian refugees and help them get a new start to peaceful lives until the Assad regime is defeated and they can return home.
Thanking the representatives of these countries — including Canada, Turkey and Germany — is one rea- son why the Kyiv Post organized the June 18 conference "Bringing Peace to Syria & Ukraine." It's also one reason why I happily took part in the June 30-July 1 Canada House at the Leopolis Jazz Festival in Lviv.
Canada's acceptance of more than 25,000 Syrians touched my heart and led me to inscribe "God Bless Canada" in Arabic on the Canadian flag. I installed it in my prayer room until I decided to present this flag as a gift to Canadian Ambassador Roman Waschuk in Lviv.
Canada went above and beyond in helping. Canadians arrived at refugee camps on the Syrian-Jordanian border and rescued people by plane. They had unique instructions. The first priority was to take blind children with their families, followed by disabled children with their families and then pregnant women with their families.
As I told the ambassador, this generous policy is an act of great humanity that people around the world and especially these families will remember for generations to come. I wished him, from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of millions of Syrian people and the Kyiv Post, a Happy Canada Day.
Other countries, including Turkey and Germany, have done so much. So have Jordan and Lebanon.
Turkey has taken in 3.5 million Syrians running from war while Germany has accepted 1.1 million refugees.
I had the honor of being able to personally thank Turkish Ambassador to Ukraine Yonet C. Tezel and German Ambassador to Ukraine Ernst Reichel when they participated in the Kyiv Post's "Bringing Peace to Syria & Ukraine" conference.
I thanked Germans and the German government for helping refugees and the Syrian people. Germany has taken more refugees than any country in Europe — 1.1 million. Syrians will remember it. One day many streets in Damascus and Aleppo will be named after German leaders.
Ambassador Tezel's nation of Turkey has helped Syrians more than anybody else. We will remember that forever. Turkey is our friend, our neighbor and our brother.
I am sure that one day we will have peace in Syria. We are determined to build our country peacefully, beautifully and with a high level of justice, without totalitarianism and without this dictatorship. We are seeking, thinking, hard-working people. Mostly these days we are praying. We are relying on God to find a solution for us. The situation is very difficult. But I am very confident that, God willing, we will very soon start to rebuild our country as a democracy.
Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine Roman Waschuk and Kyiv Post publisher Adnan Kivan, the owner and founder of the KADORR Group in Odesa, hold a Canadian flag inscribed with "God Bless Canada" in Arabic. Kivan participated in Canada House at the Leopolis Jazz Festival in Lviv, set up to celebrate Canada Day on July 1. Kivan thanked Waschuk for Canada's willingness to accept more than 25,000 Syrian war refugees, giving priority to blind and disabled children and their families as well as pregnant women and their families.
Smoke rises above rebel-held areas of the southern Syrian city of Daraa during reported airstrikes by Syrian regime forces on July 5.