Refugee camps battle with winter and flooding
Guest contributor Aishah C.
2021 Brings a Call to Action on Behalf of Syrian Refugees
As we enter into this new year, many of us are relieved that the collectively traumatic events of 2020 are moving into hindsight. Global resources are being pooled to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and the overall outlook for this year seems to be improving. However, there are many people and families for whom 2020 brought additional complications to already devastating circumstances which are long from over. The tragedies that have been faced by the people of Syria throughout the past decade have been incomprehensibly dire, and instead of hopeful new beginnings, the entry into this new year has brought a catastrophic weather emergency.
Flooding Barrels through Camps
Over 160 refugee camps in Idlib and Aleppo have been devastated by a vicious rainstorm this past week, affecting over 41,200 people according to recent reports. Displaced families occupy tents in these camps, which leaves them extremely vulnerable to weather conditions, as well as to the existing risk of contracting COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. There have been reports of death among adults, children, and even newborn babies because of the flooding and volatile weather conditions. These circumstances are predicted to get even worse in the coming days with snow and below-freezing temperatures amid existing flooding, putting thousands of internally displaced Syrians at life-threatening risk.
When we read about issues such as these from other countries, it may seem distantly upsetting, as though it is hard to relate since we may never have seen firsthand the conditions of a refugee camp, and may have never lived in the shoes of people displaced by war, unsure of their futures or those of their children. When we distance ourselves from the hardships of others, we distance ourselves from our very human nature, which contains the capacity for empathy and compassion. Devastating reports like that which is coming to us from Syria calls upon every single person to do whatever is in their power to help.
Responding when it Matters
Thankfully for us, Islamic Relief USA is on the ground in Syria, providing life-saving aid to people and families in need. With the help of donors around the world, IRUSA staff have been on the ground providing ready-made food, dry beds, new tents, wool blankets, hygiene kits and coal to over 12,000 families.
For those who do not have the capacity to be on the ground providing physical service, IRUSA has provided the opportunity to help through donations, which directly impact the chances for survival of children and families in Syria as they work to overcome this crisis. IRUSA’s humanitarian projects in Syria are working beyond the crisis as well, toward healing the psychosocial aftermath that the trauma of displacement, food insecurity and extreme poverty entails. The donations that our community provides to help those in Syria go toward physical essentials, as well as microfinance support to help families recover their livelihoods, and programs to provide relief to these trauma survivors.
It remains our moral duty as fellow humans to answer the call to action and aid Syrian refugees in whatever capacity we are able, lest we lose our very humanity. Surely by giving to those in need, we are supporting the very essence of human kindness.