January 10, 2013 | War and Peace
How you can help.
By Willa Kendrick
Every day, about 2,000 refugees—the majority of them women and children, many of them penniless and hungry—straggle out of Syria and make their way into neighboring Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. They are fleeing the fighting that’s plagued Syria since April 2011, when the Syrian Army opened fired on demonstrators opposing the government of President Basha al-Assad. In 21 months, 60,000 people have died and 600,000 have fled to neighboring countries. Another 2.5 million are displaced within Syria.
Women have been particularly hard hit. Those who remain in Syria must contend with an epidemic of rape perpetrated both by government forces and rebels. Those who seek refuge in the camps don’t do too much better—domestic violence is endemic and cash-pressed families often marry off their young daughters for money.
Now, during the harshest months of winter, conditions in those camps are downright miserable, with a lack of heat, food, warm clothing. Check out what nonprofits are doing to help, and how you can too:
UN Refugee Agency
This arm of the United Nations is providing blankets, kitchen sets, tents and more to Syrian refugees.
International Rescue Committee
This nonprofit has been alleviating humanitarian crises since 1933. In the countries bordering Syria, IRC is providing medical aid to refugees, helping women and girls victimized by violence, and ensuring that refugees have access to their legal rights.
Life for Relief and Development
Founded by Arab and Muslim American professionals in 1992, Life for Relief and Development has been giving Syrian refugee families food, bedding, and kitchen utensils since the start of the crisis. This winter, Life is distributing heavy blankets.
Save the Children
This well-known nonprofit is providing warm clothes, shoes, and blankets for Syrian children as well as winter aid packages specifically made for infants.
Make Bread, Not War
This campaign is aimed at alleviating the acute shortage of flour in Syria. With nonprofit Human Appeal International, 152 Islamic charities worldwide are attempting to raise $5 million for flour, to keep Syrians supplied with the bread that is the staple of their diet. So far Human Appeal has delivered eight truckloads of flour to Syria.
Red Cross, Red Crescent
The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are the only major agencies able to work across frontlines in Syria. They have been providing Syrians with food, shelter and medical care, as well as emotional support for families and their children.
Save Syrian Lives
The Syrian American Medical Society’s campaign is distributing medical supplies, equipment and medicine inside Syria and at the borders with neighboring countries.