Last night I caught a glimpse – just a snippet, I was on my way to do something and I happened to see it – of the BBC news and their special report into the plight of thousands of people trapped under siege in Southern Damascus. Here’s the link to the programme on iplayer, if you can see it where you are.

The bit I saw was of a young lad, I’ll estimate he was about 10 or 11, who had been sent out to queue for bread. The BBC correspondent was interviewing him and as she did, his face crumpled and he broke down, because there was no bread. My heart just split in half for him. He’d been sent out with the responsibility of finding food for the family, and there was none. He was going to have to go back to them empty handed…

I thought about him all last night and woke up thinking about him this morning. I’m crying for him again now, writing this. I know the UN are fighting to get supplies into Yarmuk, and that there’s a possibility that the BBC correspondent was able to help him in some way (whatever their policy) and that just because he was crying (and it cost him to cry, you could see it – he just was at the end of the line with his big brave lad emotions) he’s not in any worse state than the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children in the same situation, but there was something about him that made me want to jump on a plane and get out there and DO SOMETHING.

As much as I feel this ache when I hear about horrible things happening to children of any age, there is something about seeing a boy of the approximate age of my own lovely son that just wipes me out. We are so lucky, people. So very fortunate. And our happiness and fortune can be wiped out just – like – that.

The last time I felt this was on reading this article by Amelia Gentleman in the Guardian last year. I urge you to read it, if you have a spare few moments. Go and read it now, and then come back.



Are you back? Great. Thank you.

I felt so much for these boys (and girls, but fewer of them – I suspect the girls remain behind, and are no less in danger because of it) – taking these terrifying journeys into the unknown, risking so much and then still vulnerable, even when they think they must now be safe because they are in the UK. Again, being a mum to a ten year old, the thought of him making a journey like that on his own is just terrifying.

I’ve written a short story about it, which for a limited time only is free to download in the UK. It’s meant to be an introduction of sorts to the DCI Louisa Smith series, which will begin in paperback with Under a Silent Moon in the UK on 8th May, and in the US and Canada on 15th April. ┬áThere are links to all the download options for Promises to Keep here. I’m sorry it’s only in the UK at the moment, I’m hoping it will be released in the USA soon, and I will keep you informed.

Lots of love to you all!



  1. I also saw BBC News yesterday evening and saw the young boy break down and cry, he was trying so hard to be brave but was overwhelmed with hunger. In the same report an older lady was distraught and talked of being starved. The whole report was heart wrenching and moving, like Elizabeth I felt like catching the first available flight to help remove these people from such horror. Life is so unfair.

  2. hi
    I am a fan. I have bought your books. you are friends with my friend from school Nickie HP.
    have you looked at the country we are living in ? can you see what is happening here ? I would be more than happy to give you an insight into the dregs of society in the UK and how the “welfare state” treats them and hoe the safety net of a welfare state is actually a poverty trap.

  3. Dear Elizabeth,
    I just wanted to take a moment to send my regards to you, and commend you for taking time out of what I am sure is a far busier day than mine…after all I raised a son already…and I know how much strength and love it takes! For you to stop and be our conscience is wonderful. We need this, because we are all so hurried, and we don’t take the time for that second glance back to see the child break into tears. I think sometimes we are so close to tears ourselves… And we cannot stand the reminder that other people are suffering so very very much. We not want to feel the guilt on top of all the other feelings we are ever so rapidly attempting to put behind us. But we do need to know. Perhaps that night we will put a check in the mail. Discuss it with our friends. Go work a few hours at the food bank on Saturday. Try to reach out locally…that the small wave of caring locally will turn into a tidal wave further away. What can we do? I know that I am ill-informed about world events, as the last few years were less than, shall I say, informative, however, I just joined Facebook a month ago and I have been careful to have just a small circle of friends who are catching me up. So I say God bless you and your conscience. Take care lovely lady. Best wishes for your writing, and I look forward to reading it all. Love, Suzanne

  4. It so so unimaginably sad. These children will grow up without any sense or normality or stability, let alone safety. Who knows when this insane conflict will finally find some resolution, and even when it does, the people affected now, will be affected a long time after any peace agreement is signed. It is almost unbearable to think what these people are suffering and FOR WHAT??? Those poor parents who have to see their children go hungry and those poor children who cannot understand why their life is being turned on its head. I appreciate your bringing this up and I join you in your sadness and hope that there will soon come an end to this horrible conflict.

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