The Syrian civil war has been going on for five years now, but on Dec. 12 the horrific situation got even worse. The Syrian military bombed much of Eastern Aleppo, killing at least 82 civilians, according to the United Nations. Millions of Syrians need aid, so here are six ways you can help people in Aleppo now.
What started as pro-democracy protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2011 turned into violent battle between al-Assad's forces, those who oppose the president, and violent militants from the so-called Islamic State. While the Syrian government has denied using chemical weapons, investigators found that chlorine had been "systematically and repeatedly" used on rebel strongholds in 2014, BBC reported.
After five years of armed conflict, and a UN reported death toll of at least 400,000, it's clear that the civil war has devastated Syria. Approximately 11 million Syrians are displaced, with 6.5 million of these people being internally displaced within the country itself. And with the attacks earlier this week, Jan Egeland, the UN's humanitarian adviser on Syria, claimed that pro-government militia in rebel-occupied parts of Aleppo committed "massacres of unarmed civilians, of young men, of women, children, health workers," the BBC reported.
Humanitarian aid is extremely vital to the survival of Syrians at risk. Here's what you can do to make a difference:
Demonstrators will be holding a vigil on Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., with a follow-up march to the Russian Ambassador's residence. Use #StandWithAleppo to find other events to stand in solidarity with the people of Aleppo, or organize one yourself.
2. Donate To The White Helmets Hero Fund
The "unarmed and neutral" White Helmets are the 3,000 civilians of the Syrian Civil Defense whose brave searches and rescues amidst bombing have saved more than 60,000 people, according to the Atlantic. Their motto? "To save one life, is to save all of humanity." Donate to the White Helmets Hero Fund to help these volunteers and their families.
3. Call Your Representative
Political pressure is an important method of making elected officials act on issues of interest to the public. "Call on the White House, your Congressmen, Senators...to act immediately to put consequences on Assad and Russia for violating the ceasefire and push them to a ceasefire," Omar Hosino of the Coalition for Democratic Syria told WUSA9. Here's a list of ways to get in contact with your representatives, and here are a couple of scripts you can use during your phone calls.
4. Use Your Skills To Volunteer
You don't have to be in Aleppo to make a difference with your time. If you know Arabic, you can translate for organizations. Doctors are also involved in helping Aleppo's medical professionals via Skype; if you are a doctor or you know a doctor who wants to help, consider volunteering with the Syrian American Medical Society. You can also volunteer in different ways with Hand in Hand for Syria, especially if you're in the UK.
5. Contribute To The UNHCR
The United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees works to help and protect "refugees and people displaced by violence, conflict and persecution." They distribute emergency kits, relief items, and necessities to refugees around the world — and as of Dec. 12 the UNHCR was involved with helping refugees from Eastern Aleppo. If you donate to the UNHCR, you'll be updated on how your money is helping refugees.
6. Donate To Organizations On The Ground In Syria
Donating to reliable local and international NGOs with bases in Syria is one of the most effective ways you can provide humanitarian aid to the people of Aleppo. Here's a list of trustworthy organizations in Syria you can donate to help with disaster relief and recovery efforts.
The international community doesn't have to stay detached from the terrible things going on in Syria — you can help change things one step at a time. If you don't have the money to spare, you can donate your time and effort. There's always a way to help.