How You Can Help the Victims of Aleppo
In addition to United Nations' organizations, there are numerous humanitarian groups working to provide relief to the millions of Syrian people affected by President Assad's regime
Amid news that evacuations have been suspended in Aleppo, Syria, after the declared conclusion of a devastating four-year battle between rebels and the government, many Americans are wondering what can be done to help the victims of the atrocity.
According to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian affairs, there are 13.5 million people in Syria who require humanitarian assistance. Said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday, “Aleppo is now a synonym for hell.”
In addition to United Nations’ organizations, there are numerous humanitarian groups working to provide relief to the millions of people affected by President Assad’s regime. Here are some of the top agencies on the ground.
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
Tax-deductible gifts to UNHCR provide emergency supplies, as well as support and assistance to refugee families.
A donation of $30 a month can provide an emergency rescue kit, while $50 a month can supply bedding and blankets.
This winter, UNHCR is working to deliver assistance to millions of displaced Syrians facing adverse weather conditions. The aid packages include clothing, blankets and heating fuel, among other things. According to a release, since September alone UNHCR has provided 838,092 people in Syria with the aforementioned winter protective items.
The White Helmets
The White Helmets is a volunteer organization of Syrians who visit scenes of bombings to save those trapped in the rubble or injured by the blasts. According to the group’s website, they have saved 73,530 lives since 2013.
Donations go toward life-saving equipment. Five dollars can cover a pair of safety goggles for volunteers, while $89 will pay for a first-aid kit. Money also goes to larger equipment and to medical care for those putting their lives on the line to save others.
Doctors Without Borders
Doctors Without Borders (or Medecins Sans Frontieres), a non-governmental humanitarian aid organization that started in the early 1970s, is currently coordinating support and assistance for those being evacuated from east Aleppo.
On Friday, Doctors Without Borders sent medical supplies to a hospital treating wounded evacuees. The organization also said in a news release that they have 45 tons of medical supplies “prepositioned to send where it’s needed.”
Donations to Doctors Without Borders are unrestricted, which – according to the organization – “allow[s] us to allocate our resources most efficiently and where the needs are greatest.”
Islamic Relief USA
Islamic Relief USA provides aid similar to Doctors Without Borders and UNHCR, distributing food to displaced Syrians as well as providing shelters. Earlier this year, IRUSA provided meals for over 72,000 people in Aleppo.
“Our prayers are with the people of Aleppo at this time,” Islamic Relief USA CEO Anwar Khan said in a statement on the organization’s website. “Islamic Relief USA has been assisting with humanitarian aid inside Aleppo for the past few years, and we are preparing to assist those who have evacuated from the city to other areas. We are very concerned that what happened in Aleppo may happen in other areas such as Idlib, where we are also working. We are concerned about the safety of our staff inside Syria, and we are deeply concerned for the people of Syria at this time.”
Donations have helped pay for over 220 food kits and almost 2 million medical treatments, according to the group’s 2016 donor report. They also provided over 257 clinics and hospitals with medical supplies and pharmaceuticals.
Those who wish to give can choose to supply humanitarian aid, support or sponsor orphans, provide emergency aid or donate to U.S. programs.
International Committee of the Red Cross
The International Committee of the Red Cross – a worldwide, neutral organization that helps those affected by conflict or war – partners with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent – an independent humanitarian organization based in Damascus – to provide aid and relief in Syria.
According to the Red Cross’ website, over 55 frontline operations led by the two organizations have provided food and aide to Syrians in 2016.
On Thursday, teams from the Red Cross were allowed into east Aleppo to aide in the evacuation, marking the first time since April that they were successfully able to enter the area, a news release said. Over 100 workers from both organizations were involved in the effort to help the wounded receive medical care.
International Rescue Committee
The International Rescue Committee has teams in place in Idlib to help arriving evacuees of Aleppo, providing money for families to buy food and other essentials.
The organization also supports eight health facilities in Idlib, according to their website. The supplies provided by the IRC will help the facilities give medical care to over 100,000 people. Further, the IRC helps operate livelihood centers, which provide job training and more for displaced Syrians.
The IRC has been at work in Syria since 2012, and in 2015 alone helped over 1.4 million people.
The U.S. Fund for UNICEF
UNICEF and its partners have numerous reception sites on the ground in Syria to help evacuated children. UNICEF has provided six million liters of clean water, a day, for displaced people in Aleppo, and is also screening and treating malnutrition in mobile centers. The humanitarian organization also has distributed medical supplies and winter clothing kits.
“As CEO & President of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, I urge everyone to stand for hope as UNICEF continues their vital work on the ground,” Caryl M. Stern said in a statement to PEOPLE. “I am imploring the American people to not only watch, listen and grieve, but to join us in taking action on behalf of the most vulnerable – the children of Aleppo. They need us now more than ever.”
In addition to donations, UNICEF is asking American families to turn off their holiday lights for a moment of solidarity with the children of Aleppo, many of which are sequestered alone in dark basements. Those who do so should share sentiments and images on social media with the hashtags #Lightsoff4Aleppo and #ChildrenFirst.