Save The Children?

Outside Downing Street a protest against the bombing of children in Aleppo was a surprisingly low-key affair

I had hoped I would be joining a massive protest against the bombing of children in Aleppo. But after struggling through the crowds of people taking snaps of Big Ben outside Westminster station, I walked up Whitehall to find maybe only 200 people gathered near Downing Street.

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But they were at least from almost every background. Some of them were waving Syrian flags, or wrapped in them, and at one point a group of campaigners circled around someone singing Michael Jackson’s ‘Heal The World’, before the sound gave way to chanting in Arabic that called for an end to Bashar al-Assad’s regime – meanwhile the steady beat of an Arab drum sounded out along Whitehall.

A protester I spoke to thought the demonstration represented the views of Londoners as a whole. “The people of this city,” he told me, “want … children protected against the cruelty and savagery of war!”

Beyond him, by the gates to Downing Street, a pile of teddy bears made me think of all the children who have lost either their childhoods, or their lives, in the Syrian war. A note in the middle of the heap said: “For my friend’s little children, still in Aleppo, I hope we act to make you safe – x.”

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The day after the Downing Street protest, the three-day humanitarian ceasefire in Aleppo ended. Since then it has been reported that Russian or Syrian bombs have killed more than 20 children in a school in Hass, 100 km south of Aleppo.