Syria represents “a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history… The worst humanitarian crisis since Rwanda.” — UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres
As the death toll reaches almost half a million, and over 11 million Syrians displaced, the situation has become the worst humanitarian disaster of our age. There are accusations of chemical warfare, torture and execution, and there is no way we can avoid responsibility. The world is complicit
The crisis hit a critical point this week as pro-Assad regime and Russian troops launched large scale air strikes targeting Aleppo. Aid is being blocked from reaching major cities and the air strikes have destroyed the only remaining hospital in Eastern Aleppo. In response a ceasefire was called early this week, but almost immediately violated. A new ceasefire was then called on Wednesday morning, however, by the afternoon a volunteer was shot and three more injured by snipers whilst trying to clear roads for ambulances to pass. More worrying was the news this morning, as correspondents in Aleppo reported that pro-Assad regime groups opened fire on a convoy of buses transporting 800 civilian residents to the Western checkpoint.
As of a few hours ago evacuation of civilians from Aleppo has been suspended without formal explanation. Civilians are trapped in a living hell and sending out their last goodbyes.
Despite some emotive language, mentions of children and death tolls, this is not an appeal to your morality, I am not calling on you to empathise, I want you to mobilise! If you feel anything, feel enraged, feel appalled, but more importantly feel motivated to take action!
Our humanity is only as good as our deeds, so this is what you can do to help:
Proactively engage with policy makers –
- Sign a petition to start aid drops.
- Join a demonstration near you; if there isn’t one, organize it!
- Ask your council to resettle refugees as this is done on a voluntary basis by constituency.
- Ask your local MP to increase the UK resettlement quota.
Open your home to those fleeing the conflict –
- You can foster an unaccompanied child by signing up here
- If you have enough space to house a family you can volunteer here
Donate, fundraise or volunteer for charities –
The Syrian government has blocked UN aid shipments from entering Aleppo since the siege barricades went up in July but some local and international NGO’s are still able to help on the ground:
- Doctors Without Borders is one of my preferred organisations as they are usually the first on the ground in places few others dare to go. They also allocate their funds more appropriately than many other charities (only 1% going to management).
- The White Helmets are also a great organization made up of volunteers based in Syria and focus on emergency aid. So far, the group has save more than 73,500 lives whilst losing 100 of their own volunteers. The rescue workers’ bravery earned them a Nobel Peace Prize nomination this year. (Worth noting that Assad claims they are a Western funded front for a terrorist group, and that all rescues are staged).
- Hand in Hand for Syria is one of the only NGO’s able to deliver containers into Syria, reaching many of the regions others cannot. They deliver food, medical aid, clothing and blankets.
- Many of the larger international charities such as Unicef and Save the Children have appeals to help Syrian children.
- Also, if you speak Arabic you may be able to volunteer as a translator for some charities, and if you have medical training you could volunteer your expertise.
N.B In a style more fitting to my current mood I would love to have spent the last few hundred words ranting about how complicit the UK and US governments are in this war, about how it has become a political playground for Putin and Hezbollah, but I didn’t. I thought this would be more effective in encouraging change, rather than pontificating about my antigovernment beliefs. Please don’t prove me wrong.