PtG Article 15.05.2018

NGOs call for a ’World Cup of Peace’

One month before the first match kicks off in Russia, a campaign calling for international leaders to secure a ceasefire in Syria ahead of the World Cup, is launched.

A new campaign aims at raising awareness about the situation in Syria by calling on international leaders in general and Russian President Vladimir Putin in particular to ensure that a nationwide and lasting ceasefire be implemented in the war-torn country before the 2018 FIFA World Cup starts on 14 June.

The campaign, called ‘A World Cup of Peace’, is initiated by a group of Syrian civil society organisations gathered under the coalition ‘We Exist!’ and is launched with a video focusing on football but highlighting the human costs of the ongoing conflict . The main message of the football-themed video is that, for Syrians, the ultimate goal is ‘freedom’, ‘justice’ and ‘peace’.

“While the world’s attention turns to football in Russia, the war in Syria continues to destroy lives and inflict immense suffering on men, women and children,” said Bassam Al Ahmad, Executive Director of Syrians for Truth and Justice, a member of the We Exist! Alliance.

The campaign is supported by a number of international and national NGOs including International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Women Now for Development, the Moscow-based Civic Assistance Committee, and CIVICUS, a global alliance of CSOs headquartered in South Africa.

“For Russia, the World Cup is ‘a tournament of dreams’ but in Syria there is no cause to dream," said Maria Al Abdeh, Executive Director of Women Now for Development, from the We Exist! Alliance. "For hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, the World Cup will pass by unnoticed so long as the fighting carries on and bombs continue to fall.”

The #WorldCupofPeace” message is echoed by the Syrian refugee football team, who, in an online petition, also call for Putin and other leaders to declare a ceasefire in Syria ahead of the tournament. The petition has reached more than 25,000 signatures in one week.

Watch the video here:

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