It's hard to believe that four years have passed since the Syrian Civil War began with protests against President Assad's government, which responded to the protests with violent crackdowns on innocent civilians. Since those bloody beginnings now known as the Arab Spring, more than 240,000 people have been killed, according to World Vision, and 12 million Syrians have left their homes. The majority of Syrian refugees are in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, but just this year alone, more than 700,000 have made the dangerous journey to Europe in hopes of a better life. It's difficult not to feel hopeless when facing a crisis of such gargantuan proportions, but the amazing truth is that organizations and individuals all over the world work every day to help the Syrian refugees.
True, it's an uphill battle. According to U.S. News & World Report, major international aid organizations like the United Nations Children's Fund are billions of dollars short of the estimated $4.5 billion needed to fully address the Syrian refugee crisis. As a result of this budgetary shortfall, nations, individuals, and organizations are dreaming up creative ways to help those in need. With that in mind, here are some great ways to lend a helping hand to the Syrian refugees:
Donate To Relief Organizations
The most obvious way to help the Syrian refugees is by donating to an international aid organization. The question is, which one? CharityWatch.org has a great list of the top-rated charities for Syrian refugees here. Organizations on the list include the American Refugee Committee, Catholic Relief Services, the International Rescue Committee, and Save the Children.
"Think Globally, Act Locally"
The majority of Syrian refugees are settling throughout Eurasia, but a small number — 1,854 — had been admitted to the United States as of October, according to The New York Times, and President Obama has pre-approved the arrival of 10,000 more. Sadly, the governors of Michigan, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, and Indiana have recently come out against accepting Syrian refugees in response to the attacks on Paris. To show your support of the Syrian refugees, reach out to these governors and give them a piece of your mind.
Get Creative With Crowdfunding
Cristal Logothetis, a resident of Glendale, California, started an Indiegogo campaign to fund the purchase of baby carriers to help refugees who are on-foot with small children. The campaign was a huge success. “Any picture or any footage you see, it’s of people carrying their babies in their arms,” Logothetis told the Los Angeles Times. “I just couldn’t imagine how hard that must be.”
Volunteer Your Time
Though most of the refugees are an ocean away, there are still plenty of local relief organizations that could use your help. Check if there are local branches of international organizations like UNICEF or the American Refugee Committee, or if local politicians are working on bills that support the refugees. Barring local efforts, there are tons of opportunities to volunteer abroad; the International Rescue Committee, for example, is accepting volunteers at all of its locations, according to The Guardian.
Make Your Voice Heard
Sometimes, there's nothing better than good, old-fashioned (peaceful) protesting. Exercise your first amendment rights; attend a local protest, or make your voice heard on Twitter or in a letter to your congressperson. Join the #MigrantsContribute campaign on Twitter, or sign an online petition, like this one urging the UK government to accept more refugee migrants. And let's not forget those U.S. governors who recently came out against accepting refugees in their states. (See #2 above.) We're looking at you, Gov. Rick Snyder. And we know where you tweet.