March 15, 2017 marks the six-year anniversary of the war in Syria. Since 2011, there have been thousands killed and injured in fighting, 4.9 million refugees and 6.3 million displaced people within the country’s borders. The numbers are unimaginable, and the stories told through photos are unbelievable. Apart from a country self-destructing and countless cities collapsing, there are 13.5 million Syrians in need of humanitarian aid. Every one of them has risked their lives to find refuge for themselves, their families and the three million children who cannot grasp the idea of a world without conflict. Every day, hundreds of refugees take the risky voyage across oceans to try to find a new home, some never making it to the other side. Others are told to turn around, and most are unable to properly integrate into an alien society.
Countries around the world are trying to help these refugees, but the thousands that flood in are a strain on the communities, economy and politics of their host countries. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is doing what it can to save the lives of men, women and children all affected by the chaos. In the last year alone, they provided more than four million Syrians with basic relief items such as food and bedding. Every motion to protect and assist the refugees, despite only putting a dent in the issue, is crucial.
Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan are the top three among many countries allowing the refugees inside their borders. In Egypt, the refugees do not live in camps and are immediately integrated into society. Israel too is doing its part in saving lives by taking injured refugees from Aleppo and arranging for them to be treated in the country’s hospitals and returning them to Syria after their treatment.
In the most evil of worlds, humanity shines as people come together to support even the smallest fraction of people. The Ziv Medical Center in Tzfat, Israel, for example, is a hospital that has treated over 2,000 people hurt during the civil war in Syria and has been raising funds for the treatment and return of Syrians since February 2013. The center takes care of men, women and children who are suffering from war injuries due to lack of medical care in Syria. The patients hospitalized in Ziv are treated for weeks or sometimes months until they are well, although they arrive at the hospital without anything, including the medical forms that are usually required to treat patients. Patients include Druze, Christians, Jews and Muslims.
Driven by the determination to prevent another mass massacre such as the Holocaust, Amaliah, a different hospital at the border of Israel, understands that there is a need for a safe zone in Southern Syria. The hospital brings refugees to be treated there before being taken back. Amaliah’s mission is to support projects that create partnership, stability and prosperity within the Middle East and promote a safe zone in Southern Syria. Their goal is to restore civil society in Southern Syria. Because of the United Nations’ strong presence in that area and the border to the Golan Heights, it becomes easier to envision a brighter society due to geographical advantages. Their goals for 2017 include bringing over 10,000 injured and sick Syrian civilians into neighboring countries, partnering with Syrian doctors and ongoing medical relief programs and expanding their “Bus of Angels” to Syria’s neighboring countries.
Ziv Hospital and Amaliah Field Hospital in Israel have been providing crucial medical aid to Syrian civilians caught in the Syrian Civil War and humanitarian crisis, but are understaffed and underfunded.
At Brandeis University, different groups and people came together to find a way to support the refugees. Despite the unfortunate position for Syrians in America, three student groups—Judges for Israel, the Muslim Student Association and Common Ground—teamed up to raise money for this hospitals. By coming together, their fundraiser, Kneading Aid, raised over $1,000 that will be distributed evenly between the two hospitals that help thousands regain their health and their lives. Together, Judges for Israel and the Muslim Student Association made baked goods, designed shirts and sold all of it in an effort to help make a difference where possible. Hopefully, there will be an end to this crisis soon and we will not have to witness the seven-year anniversary of this tragedy.