The reports and images coming out of Aleppo, Syria have been gut-wrenching – “a complete meltdown of humanity” as a United Nations spokesperson said.
The UN Human Rights Office (OHCRH) has stated that it has received credible reports of civilians, including children, killed by bombing or summary executions. Civilians in Syria continue to be at risk, and we cannot stay silent as they suffer. Valerie Amos, UN Foundation Board Member and former head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, has emphasized the importance of protecting civilians caught in the midst of conflict, saying:
“In every conflict across the world it is civilians who bear the brunt of the fighting. Many forced to flee their homes. Others caught in the crossfire between warring factions acting with impunity. Their plight ignored. The targeting of civilians is against international law, but it goes further than that. We have a moral responsibility to raise our voices and make our views known – that civilians must be protected. It is a rule of war. A basic right. Let’s work together to make that right a reality.”
The conflict in Syria has forced more than half of the country’s population to flee their homes and left 13.5 million people in need of humanitarian aid.
These are families just like ours. There is no simple answer to this suffering, but we cannot turn away. Now is the time for the forces of humanity to mobilize. What can you do?
1. Stay updated on the situation. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has an information hub on the Syrian humanitarian crises. You can visit it to get the most recent information: http://www.unocha.org/syria.
2. Donate to aid organizations working to help Syrians. OCHA manages the Syria Humanitarian Fund, which supports relief partners working in Syria. Donations help provide emergency food, water, shelter, medicine, and other lifesaving assistance to those who need it most. You can donate here.
3. Raise your voice. Contact your elected officials, reach out to your friends and family, and use your social media networks to make sure Syrians are not forgotten. We need continued attention to help drive action. Sharing statements from the UN calling for the protection of civilians and humanitarian aid are a good place to start.
Together, let us do what we can to help alleviate the suffering and share humanity.
[Photo: ©OCHA/L. Tom]