What I’m doing to help the Syrian people

Read up, share information, attend protests, donate to NGOs. This is what we can do to help Syrians.

By Elizabeth Tsurkov

Illustrative photo of a bombed out building in Homs, Syria (FreedomHouse/CC)
Illustrative photo of a bombed out building in Homs, Syria (FreedomHouse/CC)

A number of people have asked me what they can do about the situation in Aleppo or Syria. My answer to them is to donate money and spread information about what is happening there.

Although the situation in Aleppo and other besieged areas in Syria is horrifying, donating to these areas means higher prices in a place where there is limited number of goods. Moreover, due to the high prices of goods in areas under siege, the money spent on one meal for a person under siege can be used to pay for for 10 meals in areas not under siege.

I have seen people with good intentions asking others to donate to the “White Helmets,” a volunteer NGO that operates in rebel-controlled areas. It is a worthy organization, and its volunteers are real heroes. But it is also an organization that is well-funded by European governments and large foundations. There are people who are in greater need of your money.

I suggest donating to smaller organizations in order to avoid bureaucracy and to ensure that most of the money will reach its intended target. It is important not to donate to the United Nations or UNICEF, since they have been known to collaborate with the Assad regime. The organizations I suggest below are ones I have personally donated to (I also know people who work for these organizations).

All the NGOS are registered outside of Syria, and it is possible to donate with a credit card:

Karam Foundation — An organization that works in Syria provides aid to refugees both in and outside of Syria. They place a special emphasis on aid to children.

SAMS — An organization that runs hospitals in both Syria and neighboring countries.

Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM) — Another medical organization that trains doctors working in Syria.

Hand in Hand for Syria — A Syrian-British organization that runs a number of projects inside Syria, including delivering humanitarian aid.

Beyond that, those who want to help should read about Syria and share information with their friends. As Israelis we cannot do much to change what is happening, but beyond the border there are horrendous crimes taking place. The least we can do is not ignore them. Attend protests — these are very important to Syrians. Protests and public events for Syria in Israel are usually only attended by a few dozen people. However the images always go viral among Syrians, which raises their spirits immensely. The general feeling among Syrians is that the world has abandoned them, so every event that shows them someone cares helps them carry on.

Elizabeth Tsurkov is a research fellow at the Forum for Regional Thinking, where she focuses on Syria. A version of this article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.