If the heartbreaking stories of refugees from Syria and Iraq killed on the journey to Europe have left you wondering how you can help out in this crisis, then you aren't alone. International outcry over the thousands of people who have died on the journey from Turkey and North Africa into Europe came to a head this week, as images of a drowned toddler whose body washed up on the Turkish shore took over social media. USA Today reported Thursday that Iceland residents are using Facebook to urge the government to take in more refugees, and nearly 800 Germans have signed up to house refugees through an Airbnb-like site.
By all accounts, the help is sorely needed. According to the United Nations, more than 300,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean Sea so far this year in an effort to flee the poverty and disaster caused by armed conflict in Syria, Sudan, and Iraq. And just this week, the UN reported that some 2,500 migrants and refugees have died so far this year attempting to make the crossing — now considered to be the most dangerous in the world. To compare, around 230 deaths were reported along the U.S./Mexico border over the same time period.
Those of us living in the United States or the United Kingdom can offer critical support to the refugees. Here are ways that you can donate your money, time, and voice to the millions of people at the center of the international refugee crisis.
How To Volunteer Your Time
If you live in the U.K., there are several organizations looking for volunteers to collect clothes and supplies for refugees as they enter Europe. Avaaz.org, for example, is looking for people to lobby local council members to increase government aid to refugees. And Calais Migrant Solidarity has organized a Facebook page to help connect UK volunteers to relief agencies. But even if you don't live in the U.K., you can still donate your time to an organization providing on-the-ground support in the crisis. The International Rescue Committee needs volunteers in 22 offices across the United States to help refugees find jobs and mentors.
How To Donate Money
Several renowned organizations have mobilized to provide emergency relief to families in the form of food, clothing, shelter, hygiene kits, and protection. Here are a few of the organizations that could use a financial donation:
Save the Children has organized a Syrian Children's Relief Fund to send food, clothing, soap, diapers, and other necessities to children in refugee camps. The top-rated charity is encouraging donations of $50 or more to help provide child protection and humanitarian support as the winter months approach. The website accepts major credit cards and PayPal donations.
If you're interested in honoring Aylan Kurdi — the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed up on a beach in Turkey, along with those of his mother, brother, and nine other drowned refugees — consider a donation to the Migrant Offshore Aid Station. The humanitarian aid agency is dedicated to making sea passage safer for refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Over the past 24 hours, the organization has raised more than 180,000 Euros ($200,000), according to a statement on its website, compared to the mere 50,000 Euros it had raised over the last two years.
The International Committee of the Red Cross is providing humanitarian relief in Syria and other areas of conflict around the world, including shelter, clean water, and protection. Donations of any amount are accepted on the organization's website.
The current refugee crisis is "unlike anything we've seen before," according to the United Nations Refugee Agency website. Donations made on its website will help rush basic medical supplies, tents, hygiene kits, and blankets to millions of people fleeing violence in Nepal, South Sudan, Ukraine, and Syria.
How To Help Raise Awareness
Keeping the world's attention trained on the refugee crisis might be the single biggest thing anyone can do to help. The International Rescue Committee has a link on its website to let U.S. supporters email Congress to call for more humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees. You can also add your voice to the millions of others online calling for a compassionate Europe-wide response to the refugee crisis or urging the British government to welcome more Syrian refugees.