The humanitarian situation in Syria has been deteriorating at an alarming rate, and the battle for eastern Aleppo is bordering on one of the worst massacres of the decade. Many of us are still shaken from the image of little Aylan Kurdi washed on the Turkish shore after attempting to flee Syria over a year ago and the video of the little Syrian boy pulled from the rubble this year stunned and bloodied. Now, as the Syrian government-allied forces close in on eastern Aleppo, we are shocked by the flood of reports, media, accounts, and direct pleas coming from the area. Many of these self-produced clips shared on social media include harrowing lines such as, “This may be my last reporting” and “help us while there is still time”. As the totality of the situation of Aleppo leaks out, you may be feeling helpless on how you can help.
Compiled below is a list of ways that YOU can support and help those in Aleppo, even from a distance. Keep in mind that YOU CAN HELP. The greatest support you can give is monetary support, and many organizations allow online donations that will directly impact Syrians in need. Contacting your representatives and supporting local refugee organizations are also effective in expressing your support and commitment to those in Aleppo. Don’t forget that engaging on social media and organizing demonstrations are also effective ways to display solidarity with those suffering, pressure political leaders into action, and spreading the message to others.
Easy and immediate ways to help
Donating to and supporting organizations that are on the ground is the most effective and direct way to help those in Aleppo. Please consider some of these organizations, especially as you make holiday charitable gifts.
- Support Doctors Without Borders. This medical relief organization operates around the world and on the ground in conflict-prone areas providing medical equipment, supplies, facilities, and personnel. In Aleppo, the group supports eight hospitals and comes under attack frequently. It also operates over 150 medical facilities in Syria, including in besieged areas. As hospitals health care sites are frequently targeted by regime-backed operatives, this organization needs all the support you can offer. Donate here: http://bit.ly/1g6Dvn5
- Support Save the Children. This international organization provides relief all over the world, including for internally displaced and refugee children and families. Donate here: http://bit.ly/1anjWjh
- Support the Syrian American Medical Society. This group manages dozens of medical operations in Syria and also helps refugees in many of the surrounding countries. SAMS has assisted more than 2.6 million patients and supported more than 1,700 health workers. Volunteer or donate here: http://bit.ly/2hjguDy
- Support the International Rescue Committee. The IRC is a relief organization that advocates for and supports displaced individuals fleeing violence and conflict through the globe. This organization has been active in Syria for over four years. Donate here: http://bit.ly/2gF9SAA
- Support the White Helmets. This grassroots group conducts search-and-rescue operations in rebel-controlled Syria, including searching rubble for survivors, and raises money for those in need for items such as prosthetics or assistance. This organization has been criticized for possibly advocating for regime change, as indicated here, but it’s work is vital in the city. (link: http://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/how-white-helmets-became-international-heroes-while-pushing-us-military). Donate here: http://bit.ly/1HdLvhj
- Donate to other great organizations. A reliable list can be found here: http://www.cidi.org/syria-ngos/#.WFIWg-ArLIV
Non-monetary support you can do from home
- Support refugees. The Syrian civil war has contributed to record numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons throughout the world. The carnage in Aleppo is exactly what these individuals are seeking refuge from, and it is essential that we support them in their relocation. Be active in your support for welcoming refugees and get involved in local organizations that provide assistance to this group.
- If you are in Kentucky and would like to volunteer or donate items, look into the following: Catholic Charities of Louisville, Episcopal Migration Ministries, and Kentucky Refugee Ministries provide refugee services throughout the state. They are always in need of volunteers, donated items, and monetary donations. Currently, KRM in Lexington is in need of items like coats, diapers, and menstrual products.
- If you would like to provide nonmonetary or monetary support to international organizations, consider the following: UN Refugee Agency, Questscope which provides education and counseling for refugees in Jordan, Migrant Offshore Aid Station which helps refugees making the journey by sea to Europe, Preemptive Love Coalition which works a few miles outside of Aleppo to help displaced people with basic needs, empowerment grants, and access to education, and Syria Relief which shares medical expertise and has started a mental health center for those living in the Syrian war zone to cope with trauma, provides prosthetic limbs, and has expanded to basic needs and education.
- Call your representatives. If you are in Kentucky, you can find your local Representatives and Senators here and also find their contact information. For your elected officials in D.C., you can find your Representative and their contact information here and your Senators and their contact information here. Contact them. Let them know that you want them to condemn the violence in Aleppo and Syria, and urge them to support aid drops and humanitarian access for Syrians in need. Push them to support refugee resettlement in America and that you #WelcomeRefugees.
- Be active on social media. Use your platform to inform others and express your concern and outrage. Tag Congressmen and leaders in calls for action. Follow dedicated journalists and activists in Syria and Aleppo. Use #StandWithAleppo to voice your support and find local or national efforts to support Aleppo.
- Go to a protest or start one. Mobilize and demand action or join efforts in your area. Organize vigils and information sessions. Get out into your communities and protest for humanity.
While you may feel hopeless, remember that there are things YOU can do to address the atrocity unfolding in Aleppo and Syria. Utilize your privileges, rights, and abilities to condemn international human rights violations that are unfolding and to support those on the ground in Syria doing necessary and dangerous work. Hold out hope, be active, and support the people of Aleppo.
- “7 real things you can do right now about the catastrophe in Aleppo.” 12/13/2016. http://www.upworthy.com/7-real-things-you-can-do-right-now-about-the-catastrophe-in-aleppo
- “Syria War: 5 things you can do to help Aleppo.” 12/14/2016. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/aleppo-conflict-syria-war-latest-five-things-you-can-do-to-help-a7472681.html
- Huffington Post. “How Can I Help People in Aleppo? 9 Charities Working to Provide Food, Shelter, Medicine, and Education to Syrians.” 12/13/2016. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/how-to-help-aleppo-charities-and-organisations-to-donate-to-including-msf-the-red-cross-and-the-white-helmets_uk_584ff7a8e4b040989fa80770
- BBC News. “What’s happening in Aleppo?” 12/13/2016. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-38132163
Cover image via NPR’s “PHOTOS: Mass Exodus from Aleppo’s Rebel Stronghold as Regime Forces Close In“. Caption and credit as listed in article: “Syrians who fled rebel-held areas of Aleppo take shelter Wednesday in the nearby town of Jibrin. Youssef Karwashan /AFP/Getty Images”