Adventures in Links — September 18, 2015 (Syria)

Theme: Syria

Even if you’ve been avoiding the news the past few weeks, you know something’s going on with Syria. Millions of Syrians have fled the country, sometimes taking hazardous or even fatal journeys to attain refugee status. Countries like Hungary have built razor wire walls to keep refugees out while others have welcomed tens of thousands. Dead children have washed up on beaches, captivating international attention, and a multiyear war and cruel dictatorship continues.

I’ve avoided discussing Syria because it is such a vast and heartbreaking topic and because I wasn’t yet properly educated. Though I know more now, I still don’t know enough and will continue researching the topic and various ways to help people. Today I’ve compiled a short set of links to help others learn about Syria, the Syrian Refugee Crisis, and how to help. I’m erred on the side of optimism and hope and have strenuously avoided anything with gratuitous death and violence. I hope that one of my readers will see something that sparks them to help, even if it’s only by sending a few dollars to a relief agency. Thanks for reading.

Hank Green of the Youtube team vlogbrothers has recorded the above approximately five minute YouTube video about Syria and what has led to this current refugee crisis. It is a fast and somewhat cursory look into the issue, but it’s well laid-out, informative, and easy to understand. It’s a good starting point.

If you’d like to learn more about the Syrian refugee crisis and Aylan Kurdi, the poor child who sparked the international dialogue about Syria, click here for a video from John Green, the other member of the vlogbrothers team. His video is slightly longer at just under 10 minutes, but it is a very interesting and compassion look into the situation. It also links to a couple relief organizations.

For an additional angle on what caused Syria’s participation in the 2010 “Arab Spring” and sparked the protests that lead to such harsh government action, click here for a comic by Audrey Quinn and Jackie Roche. It specifically talks about the role of climate change in Syria and how it affected people and precipitated the protests. It’s really good.

As four million Syrian refugees try to find a more stable home, many European countries like Hungary are actively resisting their attempts to enter their country either by building physical walls, throwing people off of trains, or tracking them down and detaining them. It is was thus quite heartening to see the people of Iceland, which has a population of only 300,000, start a grassroots movement to accept 10,000 refugees by housing them in volunteers’ homes. So far, the government hasn’t made sweeping refugee changes, but it’s still a lovely story. Click here to read more.

However, there are some people who are not only showing hypothetical goodwill but are doing it. One such person is Gabriella Andreevska from Macedonia who works on the Greece-Macedonia border with passing refugees, helping them figure out where they are, where they’re going, what they need to do, and feeding them. Below is a video of her incredible work.


 

Then there’s Germany, which has accepted over 800,000 Syrian refugees and is posed to accept up to a million. Hundreds of citizens are meeting refugees at train stations clapping and cheering and singing, “Refugees are welcome here.” It’s a really compassionate moment, which you can see in this video.

Finally, though President Obama has claimed he will expand the amount of refugees the US will accept next year, that’s not guaranteed. We as citizens must do what we can to encourage our government to accept more refugees and send aid to other countries and relief organizations. Click here to sign a White House petition for the US to accept at least 65,000 refugees. To give money to a relief organization, click here to donate to Network for Good, a donor advised fund that will distribute the money to four nonprofits that provide aid to refugees and migrants. Google will be matching all donations up to $5.5 million. You can also click here to donate to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which will go directly towards helping Syrian refugees throughout Europe and the Middle East. I personally have only been able to donate $20, but every bit help, especially if you can make it a reoccurring donation. At the very least, sharing these links would be appreciated.

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