On Tuesday it was announced that the prolonged, bloody battle for Aleppo, Syria, had finally ended. Russia made known that a ceasefire had gone into effect, during which time any remaining rebel fighters and civilians who chose to accompany them would be permitted to leave the city and move to the rebel-controlled territory Idlib. But the ceasefire didn’t last more than a day, with the Syrian government resuming its bombing Wednesday morning. Thus far, the death toll from the massacre of the Syrian government’s siege of Aleppo is not yet known, as the efforts of international monitors were hampered by the combat and a lack of cooperation from the Syrian government. There were, however, reports of pro-government troops summarily killing at least 82 people as they moved into the eastern portions of Aleppo.
More death and destruction are sure to come as government forces move to retake the rest of the rebels’ territory. And that’s not all. ISIS, though weaker now than it has been in years, still holds land of its own and remains committed to violence. In northeastern Syria, Kurdish fighters are also battling the Syrian government, as well as clashing with Turkey. All this while there is an ongoing refugee crisis.
Here’s what you can do to help out those in need affected by the crisis:
Donations to Refugee Causes
If you’re looking to make a physical or monetary effort to assist the migrant population that is currently leaving Syria, there are a number of organizations offering effective aid. Refugees Welcome is a German nonprofit dedicated to locating housing for refugees entering Germany. Functioning as a lodging service, the organization welcomes another bed (if you’re in Germany) or donations to support their efforts. There is also the Migrant Off-Shore Aid Station (MOAS), which provides life-saving, search-and-rescue assistance in the Mediterranean, Agean, and Andaman Seas. It’s accepting donations and committed to transparency regarding the allocation of the funding the public supplies. There are also many other organizations at work on behalf of refugees.
Contact Your Congressperson
This is an avenue for change that is available to every American who can dial a phone, write a letter, or send an email. If you’d like to see the Untied States as a country do more to help, then get in touch with your Senator or Representative. These are the people who, along with the president, will actually shape American foreign policy in the region. Talk to them about accepting more refugees or sending more aid. We have a direct line to them at all times. Use it now, especially, since President-elect Trump’s relationship to Vladimir Putin may cause him to let Russia run amok in Syria.
Help Syrian Civilians
You could also focus your resources to aid those still within Syria. In that case, your donations would be best directed toward organizations providing medical services for the Syrian people. Doctors Without Borders is perhaps the most well known of these types of organizations. Their help is vital in Syria, as many hospitals and other medical centers are damaged or rendered offline by the fighting. You could also choose to support the White Helmets, Syrian aid workers who risk their lives every day to rescue civilians and bring them to safety.
Support the United Nations
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is currently working to provide supplies like blankets and warm clothing to refugees so that they can make it through the winter. You can send a holiday gift on the organization’s website.
Educate Yourself (and Others)
It’s useful to have a better grasp of what’s happening, although it’s safe to assume that most people don’t fully understand that what’s happening in Syria is bad. Various news outlets like The New York Times and the BBC are doing their best to make things easier to understand with reporters in the area. Plus, if you know what’s happening, you’ll be able to answer questions that your family and friends might have, and so on and so forth.
However you choose to help, be sure to do your research on the charity or organization you are supporting. Make sure they put their money where their mouth is.
Photos via Getty Images / Alexander Koerner