In the last few weeks, the focus on social media seems to have been Noor Tagouri’s playboy interview, Kim Kardashian’s robbery, and Donald Trump’s lewd and sexually aggressive comments about women, but one thing hasn’t changed…
Aleppo continues to weep.
During the last week alone, more than 96 innocent children were killed. The Syrian Civil War, which has been going on for five years, is the “world’s largest humanitarian crisis since World War II,” with more than 470,000 people killed. That’s more than the whole city of Atlanta, Georgia.
Today, over 13.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria.
The Syrian Civil War, which has been going on for five years, is the “world’s largest humanitarian crisis since World War II,” with more than 470,000 people killed. That’s more than the whole city of Atlanta, Georgia.
Why is it, then, that we seem to forget about it so easily, until the next major catastrophe is reported in a major news outlet? Are we just numb because of the overwhelming nature of this tragedy, or is it something else?
Dr. Joanne Liu, MSF‘s international president, says, “There’s a lack of humanity with respect to Syria because when we talk about Syria, we always talk about figures.”
Meaning, we generally skim over statistics like the ones reported above, because they don’t represent real people for us.
“We always say, in Syria, 1 in 3 people are displaced. Or there are 2.8 million refugees outside Syria. But to the normal person, what does that mean?” asks Dr. Liu. “Nobody understands that on a daily basis, kids cannot go to their school unless parents want to put them at risk of getting hit by a barrel bomb. Children in refugee camps cannot have shelter that is proper to go through winter. A woman cannot deliver in a safe environment, or a child is suffering from a preventable disease.”
It’s not until we see graphic images of the war-torn nation, or are forced to imagine what this crisis would be like if it were happening in the West, that we begin to wake up to the horrors of what is going on in Aleppo, and much of Syria, every day.
To be fair, this blindness is not only the fault of the Western media or our own preoccupation with other events. The Syrian Ministry of Tourism has been posting videos online to try and advertise parts of the city of Aleppo to potential tourists.
As ridiculous as this may sound, the most bizarre and infuriating part is the content and style of these promotional videos. They have used a cover of the Game of Thrones music, as well as techno music, in the background. The advertisements themselves feature beautiful resorts and the government-held part of Aleppo, in an attempt to mask the war-torn state of the city.
In an effort to shed light on what the Syrian people are actually dealing with on a daily basis, seven-year-old Bana Alabed has been tweeting her experiences of life in a war-zone. With the help of her mother, she has been posting regularly despite shortages in food and safe water, as well as patchy connections to both the internet and telephone.
— Bana Alabed (@AlabedBana) September 26, 2016
So what can we practically do for the people of Aleppo, including children like Bana?
Dan Rather reminds us of the importance of voting in the upcoming election: “Our country’s actions are important and this undeniable human tragedy is just one example of the high stakes in the presidential election.”
There are also numerous charities available to donate at online, including Care and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Every small donation makes a difference.
And of course, we should never underestimate the power of empathy and sincere du’aa (prayer/supplication).
May Allah (SWT) grant aid and relief to the people of Aleppo and all of Syria, and may He make us from those who have an empathetic and helpful response to the tragedies of the people of Syria, as well as our brothers and sisters in humanity across the globe. Amen.