It has been five years since the war in Syria has started, on Tuesday, March 15, 2011.
The refugee crisis is plastered on every single news outlet daily. As a reader it has now gone to the point where it would feel weird if a story about the Calais jungle or refugees who are stranded in Macedonia were not covered . It is sometimes easy to forget that the majority of the refugees are actually fleeing a war.
In light of the Cologne attacks where the world saw a man of North African decent sexually assault a woman. Or when the world saw right wing protests that were organised by the group Pegida; a clear trigger of the attacks. However, Cologne did also see pro-refugee protests, of the same stature, across the country too.
Photographer Martin Förster went to Syria to capture the individuals who did not want to leave; the ones who are willing to die for their country.
Förster described the moment he nearly lost his life. He told Artefact that “if I didn’t have my flak jacket with me, I wouldn’t say these words here. We were under constant sniper and mortar fire, and the jacket saved my life as a sniper picked up on me and thankfully just hit the jacket and I ran away from the scene with only 2 ribs broken”.
According to Aljazeera 220,000 people have fled Syria over the last four years.
We asked Förtser why the people he spoke to did not flee: “even if they are living in ruins, many Syrians still call their country home and they just don’t want to go. They feel responsible for taking back their home, if necessary with armed force. They are proud to be Syrians and they don’t want the regime to take away everything they had”.
A number of countries are conducting airstrikes on Syria. Prominent examples are, the UK, America and Russia. There have been approximately 1.9 million causalties since the start of the war.
The Syrians who still live in Syria are in the midst of a heated conflicted. Not only are they being bombed on by the international community, who is targeting the Islamic state. There is also an on-going civil war between the Syrian military and the democratic forces.
Förster’s photos showcase humanity and the coming together of people, during extremely hard times. The Syrian people’s plight for survival is one that is evident in these photos. From rescuing an individual caught up in the rubble of a bombed building, to the harrowing sight of a young girl’s shoe laying on the sandy pile of debris. Life under bombs.
“People can’t know how it feels to lose everything and fear for your life on a daily basis. Refugees from Syria should have more respect for the unspeakable pain and suffering they went through before arriving in Germany,” Förster said.
The Syrian government’s representatives have been conducting peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland. Leaders of the opposition said they were ready to talk with the government. However, Bashaar al-Jaffari, a government negotiator dismissed the idea.
All images by Martin Förster