The civilians of Aleppo are in dire need of help. As the United Nations describes the ongoing genocide in the region as a "complete meltdown of humanity," pro-Syrian government forces are indiscriminately shooting civilians, reportedly killing up to 82 people (a devastating number that includes both women and children) on Monday alone. Though some evacuations are underway, humanitarian efforts in the region are still in desperate need of resources, and Americans ought to be doing everything they can to help Aleppo right now.
Though a ceasefire and evacuation were planned to begin Wednesday evening, it's reported that at least one fleeing convoy carrying civilians was attacked by pro-government forces during the first round of evacuations. Additionally, there are still ongoing attacks happening in the eastern region of Aleppo, the final holdout of rebel-controlled territory. Al Jazeera reports that citizens and fighters in the area are concerned that the evacuation deal may not be honored. The publication also reports that shelling is still occurring in the eastern region of the city, and that government forces have thereby already violated the ceasefire agreement.
Given this ongoing conflict in the region, coupled with the continued struggle of those who have already fled the region, it's paramount that Americans activate their resources to help Aleppo. Here are a few ways to provide aid:
1. Follow Syrian Activists To Stay Informed
Staying informed on the conflict is the first step. Due to traditionally low international media presence in the region, these Syrian activists and bloggers were often the only source of news coming out of Aleppo. You can follow their on-the-ground reporting and updates via Twitter.
2. Donate To Relief Efforts
Consider donating to both local and international relief groups to help the Syrian civilians. There are a multitude of local relief groups and NGOs doing work on-the-ground, as well as international groups such as Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children that are enlisting their aid. Even a small donation can make an impact.
3. Fund The White Helmets
The White Helmets, a volunteer group of first responders, have reportedly saved 70,000 lives throughout the Syrian war. The group pulls people trapped in rubble following air strikes, and have selflessly paid their own, steep price for it — at least one volunteer was killed by a pro-government sniper as they assisted with evacuations on Thursday, and some 100 have died since the group was founded in 2013. You can support their work here.
4. Volunteer Your Specific Skills
The U.S.-based Syrian American Medical Society offers medical charity all throughout Syria. If you're a medical professional, you can contact the Syrian American Medical Society via Skype to offer assistance to the nurses and doctors in the region. Likewise, if you speak Arabic, you can contact your local branch to offer translation services.
5. Contact Your Representatives
Put political pressure on your representatives by letting them know you expect U.S. action on Aleppo. Omar Hosino of the Coalition for Democratic Syria urged Americans to act, saying, "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." The Syrian American Medical Society also offers a template for sending a letter to your congressman on Aleppo.
6. Join Peaceful Demonstrations In Your City
Show Syrian citizens that you stand with them by providing strength in numbers. You can use the hashtag #StandWithSyria to find protests in your area. There have already been multiple, successful protests worldwide.
7. Support Planet Syria
Join Planet Syria, a group comprised of non-violent Syrian activists, has an international campaign to bring peace to the region. The group is primarily asking for two things: "an end to the Assad regime’s barrel bombs and air strikes, and negotiations between all Syrian groups and their international backers." You can join Planet Syria's 2 million members today.
During such dire times, any help at all is needed. Consider donating your time and resources to show Syria that the international community is listening.