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U of O club raises awareness and money for humanitarian crisis in Syria

A UNIVERSITY OF Ottawa club is aiming to raise money and awareness for the Syrian people in light of the country’s ongoing crisis.

Syria is involved in a civil war between the sitting regime and those seeking to overthrow it. Syrian Student Association in Ottawa (SSAO) president Rama Imadi recently returned from Syria and is calling for greater public awareness and involvement.

“We believe Canada and the United States should be funding the right people,” she said.

Imadi referred to the Free Syrian Army, which is comprised of military defectors fighting against the Syrian regime.

“We’ve been trying to get Canada to be more involved in providing humanitarian aid to the Syrian refugees,” Imadi said. “I visited Syria and Turkey earlier this year and observed the projects that we have been trying to fund in Syria.”

“We want students to donate, to spread awareness, to look into what is happening,” she said.

The SSAO is partnering with a similar club at Carleton University to organize a rally on Sept. 14 to demand that the Canadian government “stand by the Syrian people in their quest for freedom, liberation and protection from the Assad regime, and to support Syrian-Canadians in their quest to protect their families,” according to the event’s Facebook page.

The SSAO supports one-time strikes but is opposed to Canada’s extended occupation in the region.

David Petrasek, a U of O international law professor and former director for the Centre for International Policy Studies, spoke about the lack of legality surrounding all possible action that has been discussed in the media.

“The Responsibility to Protect doctrine as endorsed in 2005 allows states to only take action through the Security Council,” he said. “In Syria it is very unlikely that this will happen.  There is no legal support to take action.”

Petrasek investigates the legality surrounding international interventions and has been following the Syrian situation closely.

“The alternative would be for some coalition of countries to take action, but there would be no legal justification for that,” he said. “It also doesn’t seem to have won much universal support.”

The Syrian conflict has left over 100,000 people dead and  displaced millions more.