Why You Should Care About Aleppo & The Crisis Its People Are Enduring

The human rights crisis in Syria has reached a peak, as the city of Aleppo was besieged by renewed attempts at recapture by the Syrian army on Tuesday. Videos of tearful Syrians posting final goodbye messages flooded social media platforms, calls for donations to relief organizations reappeared, and millions posted their support for the civilians caught in the middle of the conflict. If you're asking yourself "Why should I care about Aleppo?" for any reason, try to come up with one reason why you shouldn't.

It's certainly not your fault for not taking a strong stance on the human rights crisis in Aleppo right now — you're not the only one. Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War five years ago, the U.S. government has sent about $5.6 billion in aid to Syria, which seems like a lot until it's put into the context of the federal budget. Over five years, that amount equates to about 0.0003 percent of annual federal spending. It's obviously not nothing, but when spread between the nearly 11 million refugees who have been either internationally or internally displaced since 2011, U.S. governmental aid amounts to just barely over $1,000 per refugee per year — less than $3 per day. Realistically, it's barely anything, and it's certainly not enough.

But the government also hasn't gotten the pushback from the people that it would need to really commit to refugee relief. There's no great national sacrifice being made on behalf of the Syrian people, nor a great communal call to action to help them. In fact, the country even elected Donald Trump, who has pretty brazenly stated his disregard for the human rights of people in the Middle East and refugees in general, signaling to everyone that he believes the Syrian people don't deserve sympathy or support. If you internalized that message, it's understandable.

But part of being an informed citizen is breaking out of the mold of messaging that tells you not to pay attention to what's actually important and feeds you distractions instead. Ending the crisis in Syria should be everyone's priority right now, because that's the only way it won't continue on in another embodiment later on in history. The Middle East has been fraught with conflict for generations now, and all it does is breed more conflict. Young people in particular have to be an active part of breaking that cycle — it will take a cultural revolution for the U.S. to make a difference in Syria and you need to be involved in that change.

Syria could be a template for how the next generation handles war and armed conflict, which could start to happen more and more as resources like clean water and fertile land disappear. Young people need to prove to the rest of the world that they will stand up for the globally marginalized, and that means you need to take a strong stand on Aleppo. Not only should you care deeply about the suffering the people of Syria are enduring, you should be spurred to action, too.