Has solidarity among Syrians decreased?

Syria Civil Defense volunteers in the city of Idlib hold banners calling for an investigation into the reasons for the sinking of a refugee boat on the coast of Greece - June 18, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)

Syria Civil Defense volunteers in the city of Idlib hold banners calling for an investigation into the reasons for the sinking of a refugee boat on the coast of Greece - June 18, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)


Enab Baladi – Yamen Moghrabi

Empty streets in the south, and sad faces in the northwest, are two scenes that sum up the popular reaction to the death of Syrians in a boat accident within Greek territorial waters.

On June 17, the streets of Daraa, southern Syria, were empty of pedestrians, mourning the death of Syrians who tried to reach Europe, including residents of the same governorate.

The next day, the volunteers of the Syria Civil Defense (SCD) agency in Idlib, in the far northwest, organized a solidarity stand during which they lit candles and carried banners calling for an investigation into the causes of the accident and expressed emotional expressions towards Daraa and the drowned Syrians.

On the other hand, the amount of sympathy on social media for the victims of the sinking boat was not at the level of the event, which opens the door to the question about the absence or lack of sympathy with the successive disasters of the Syrians.

Since the beginning of the year, Syrians have witnessed two major incidents and a third that brings back pictures of some of what they suffered.

The first was the earthquake that struck Syrian cities on the coast and northwest of Syria on February 6, claiming thousands of victims, and social media was filled at the time with posts of solidarity with the victims calling for help and publishing numbers of contributions for relief materials and material aid, regardless of the authorities in control on the ground, whether the Syrian regime or the opposition.

The second incident is related to the violence in Sudan and the conflict there between two military forces, namely the Sudanese army led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces led by Mohamad Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, so that thousands of Syrians woke up to the impact of battles and shelling without the presence of government agencies to evacuate them, as the rest of countries did.

As for the third incident, a boat carrying illegal immigrants sank near Greece, as a result of which 81 people, including Syrians, died, most of whom were from the city of Daraa.

The second and third incidents did not receive the same amount of sympathy or solidarity on social media, in contrast to the first, which was considered a “national catastrophe,” along with other topics that aroused Syrians’ sympathy towards each other over the past years.

What is solidarity?

Empathy has several definitions in sociology, one of which is solidarity and advocacy practiced by several groups, communities, or social strata towards a specific cause or a group of people who suffer grievances. It is a powerful mechanism that saves effort, time, and logistical matters, social researcher Aisha Abd al-Malik told Enab Baladi.

It also constitutes a kind of sympathy and equality, which is necessary and required for society, and takes physical, moral, and psychological forms as well, according to Hana Mujahid, a psychological consultant.

While the United Nations defines solidarity as one of the basic values of international relations in the 21st century, those who suffer, and those who have not benefited much from globalization, deserve help and assistance from those who have benefited a lot from it, which is indispensable.

The United Nations established a global solidarity fund to eradicate poverty. The International Human Solidarity Day (IHSD), observed on December 20, is an international annual unity day of the UN and its member states.

UN and concept of solidarity

The concept of solidarity is to draw the peoples and nations of the world together to promote peace, human rights, and social and economic development. The Organization was founded on the basic premise of unity and harmony among its members, expressed in the concept of collective security that relies on the solidarity of its members to unite “to maintain international peace and security.”

Emotional draining makes disasters normal

Over the years, and especially since the Syrian regime adopted the security solution in the face of the popular demonstrations that called for its overthrow in 2011, a large segment of Syrians have experienced extremely harsh conditions, represented by arrest, enforced disappearance, and murder.

In addition to external migration, internal displacement, economic difficulties, and successive living crises, with the absence of any horizon for political solutions in the Syrian file.

These successive circumstances and crises, of which death occupies a large area, lead to a “drain of feelings” among people and society, according to Mujahid.

Mujahid told Enab Baladi that a large segment of Syrians who personally or their relatives and their surroundings were subjected to the danger of death or arrest, and survived them, drained their feelings for years.

“The matter has become normal, and thus solidarity and support operations declined because this same segment needs someone to support it amidst the difficulties it has been experiencing continuously for a long time,” the psychologist said.

The absence of solidarity at the popular level was not continuous, but it became more associated with major disasters, such as the earthquake last February.

Abd al-Malik told Enab Baladi that the large number of social phenomena calling for solidarity, the large number of grievances, and the similarity of stories have turned major incidents that require solidarity into a normal matter.

The social researcher referred to the recent incident of the boat’s sinking without taking much notice or highlighting it, adding that the large number of deaths and accidents makes the matter take a habitual course, and the increase in campaigns and the lack of response to them or the emergence of tangible results push people to think differently.

Media coverage plays a wide role in motivating people to talk about disasters when more space is available for the latter in media materials, Mujahid said.

Solidarity in Arabic language

Arabic dictionaries include several meanings of solidarity.

Solidarity is defined in the dictionary of Almaany as “the obligation of each person to perform what others fail to do.”

According to al-Waseet dictionary, solidarity means “the commitment of the strong or the rich to help the weak or the poor.”

Negative effects of the absence of solidarity

Solidarity has a positive impact on society in general, and the situation applies to the Syrian reality under the current circumstances.

The absence of solidarity has several adverse effects on society as a whole as well as on the individual and may lead to negative social phenomena or the penetration of mechanisms of repression and corruption at the government level.

According to the social researcher Abd al-Malik, this absence leads directly to an increase in negative phenomena and thus an increase in grievances in society, and it becomes overlooked, even if there is a need for advocacy, pressure, and support, and demands for solutions within the mechanism of sympathy itself.

Psychologist Mujahid told Enab Baladi that the absence of solidarity among individuals in society may also lead to more crimes or the exposure of vulnerable social groups to new grievances, in conjunction with the feeling of the absence of any kind of sympathy, solidarity, or popular pressure, which negatively affects society. 

The absence of solidarity also leads to individuals feeling the absence of their value in life and causes them to feel more lonely, which means that there are direct effects on mental health.



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