As the crisis in Syria reaches new heights this month, thousands of civilians remained trapped in the rebel-held enclave of east Aleppo. With no access to food or water, freezing temperatures and limited medical facilities, not to mention the constant threat of bombardment by government and internationally-backed forces, their situation is dire.
Even those who have been evacuated out of the war-torn city are in a critical condition, with many people suffering from injuries or dehydration, as well as facing the enormous upheaval that comes from displacement.
Witnessing these heartbreaking events from the outside, it’s easy to feel frustrated and helpless. But there are significant ways in which you can contribute to support both refugees who have fled war-torn areas, and those still under siege.
Here are five practical ways to send help.
Donate money to charities on the ground
Getting aid shipments (food, water, clothing, blankets, shelter) to the people who need it most is difficult and often extremely dangerous, so it’s important to donate money to charities working with people who are on the ground in Syria, and understand what supplies people in each area really need.
Save The Children, CARE, American Refugee Committee, GlobalGiving, International Rescue Committee and Palestine Children's Relief Fund have all been given a high rating by Charity Navigator (an independent non-profit that rates the effectiveness and transparency of organisations), while you can also still donate through the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and British Red Cross.
Support doctors in East Aleppo
Medical care in Aleppo is increasingly hard to come by, with almost all operating hospitals and medical units in East Aleppo now having been destroyed in airstrikes. If you have medical training you can help by getting in touch with MSF (Doctors Without Borders) and SAMS (Syrian American Medical Society), to volunteer or offer advice via Skype links to Syrian doctors and nurses, while translators proficient in Arabic are also needed to aid communications. You can also donate cash to help both organisations run their relief projects and provide vital care.
Provide resources for the White Helmets
Known as the White Helmets, incredibly brave Syrian Civil Defence teams operate on the ground to pull people from the rubble following bombing attacks. Largely made up of volunteers (bakers, tailors, engineers, pharmacists, painters, carpenters, students and more have all joined the effort), it’s thought they’ve saved some 73,530 lives so far, while risking their own each time they venture out. To continue saving lives they need safety equipment, fire extinguishers and first aid supplies, which you can donate via whitehelmets.org.
Help provide for displaced refugees
Though British MPs continue to clamp down on the number of refugees able to seek shelter in the UK, you can still help to provide for people displaced in other areas by donating to key organisations.
Mercy Corps is an NGO which provides clean water and hygiene kits, among other supplies, to Syrian evacuees - they are currently operating in northern Syria, waiting for more people to be evacuated out of Aleppo. Red Cross, meanwhile, has partnered with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, an independent organisation based in Damascus, to play a key role in the evacuation of people from Aleppo - you can donate here.
Campaign for more action
If you’re frustrated with the British response to the crisis, join the many demonstrations and campaigns that are calling for more action. Sign this petition to support calls for aid drops to begin in areas of Aleppo that have been blocked from receiving shipments, or call and email your MP and MEP to encourage them to push for sanctions or diplomatic repercussions for the Syrian and Russian governments.
Lead image: Rex