On Tuesday, a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria left more than 80 people—including an estimated 27 children—dead. Following Donald Trump's move Thursday to strike Bashar al-Assad's regime, the national discussion has shifted to a debate on congressional involvement and Trump's own self-contradicting policy on refugees. But too often, what gets lost in this discussion is how everyday people can get involved in helping those most affected by these troubling events: the people of Syria.
This week's attack is not the first of its kind. The civil war in Syria began in 2011, with the United Nations reporting that as many as 400,000 Syrians have been killed during the ongoing conflict. According to ABC News, the U.N. has placed blame for three suspected chemical weapons attacks on the Syrian government.
For those looking to offer donations, or to volunteer their time, a multitude of groups—both on the ground and abroad—are offering assistance to Syrians in need. Below, we've compiled a selection of such groups. In addition to checking these out, we also recommend studying up on the conflict and pressuring your local representatives to embrace policies that help (not hurt) refugees.
UN Refugee Agency
The UN Refugee Agency aims to provide "life-saving humanitarian aid" to Syrian refugees, including funds for necessary medicines and insulation for tents. Earlier this year, the group teamed up with other U.N. humanitarian agencies to appeal for $8 billion in "vital new funding" to help Syria's most vulnerable. Click here for more info on donations and other efforts.
CARE is found in 94 different countries around the world. For Syria assistance, CARE allows donors to purchase digital CARE packages which help Syrian refugees obtain food, as well as household essentials. Click here for more info.
Doctors Without Borders
Doctors Without Borders started work in Syria soon after the conflict began. First, the group provided local medical facilities with needed drugs and related supplies. Independent facilities were then established. Like all groups working to help those in need, donations are welcome. For those not in a position to do so, boosting the group's visibility on social media (and at the local level) also helps.
International Rescue Committee
Since 2012, the International Rescue Committee has provided aid to Syrians in the form of cash vouchers, legal help, education, and employment. For those here in the States interested in signing up as a volunteer, you can find your local resettlement office by clicking here.
The White Helmets
At 3000 volunteers strong, the Syria Civil Defense (White Helmets) vows to "not pledge allegiance" to any political group. The group is "always looking" for people who want to make a difference and share the same values of impartiality. Click here for more.
Islamic Relief USA
Islamic Relief USA provides a variety of different ways for people to get involved. In addition to volunteer work, the group also accepts car and stock donations. More info is available at their website.
Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services
Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS) considers the welcoming of "persecuted people" from other countries the United States' "most noble" tradition. To uphold that tradition, IRIS focuses on refugee resettlement by providing language lessons and childcare. The group accepts donations and volunteers and will even assist those looking to host a fundraiser. More info is available here.
American Refugee Committee
The response to the Syrian tragedy, according to the American Refugee Committee (ARC), has been running on a "half empty" tank for years due to a lack of funding. Over the past four years, ARC has worked with Syrian citizen humanitarians in providing water and sanitation to those in need. "But there is still much to be done," the group says. Find out how you can help by clicking here.
With a donation to UNICEF, the group promises, you'll be contributing to the mobilization of the "largest relief operation in history." This operation includes ensuring the availability of clean water, basic nutrition, vaccinations, temporary education facilities, and much more. Donate here and read up on additional ways to help UNICEF in their efforts.
In a statement to Complex Friday, an Oxfam spokesperson called on Trump to reassess his contradictory stance on Syrian refugees. "Oxfam is urging the President to change course on his discriminatory ban that blocks Syrian civilians from finding refuge in the United States," an Oxfam rep told Complex. "If we truly want to help protect the people of Syria, we must also be willing to offer the Syrians assistance as they flee attacks in search of safety. We should be opening our hearts and doors to the most vulnerable, not slamming them shut." Oxfam, throughout its 70-year history, addresses issues such as inequality, poverty, and discrimination by directly holding those in power accountable. Those interested in helping further Oxfam's vision for a "just world without poverty" can find more info on how to donate, volunteer, and campaign by clicking here.