The 12 Syrian refugees whose bodies were found near the Lebanese borders after they froze to death are only few of the hundreds who die without anyone knowing anything about them. The Syrian people’s murderers include the weather, starvation, mass evacuation and robbery, in addition to the Russians, Iranians, Assad’s forces, ISIS and Al-Nusra Front. Those whose houses were not destroyed or who did not die from chemical gas or during the war may die in camps or on their way as they seek shelter.
We might be incapable of confronting the evil forces which kill the Syrian people on a daily basis but this does not exonerate us from the responsibility to aid refugees. It’s our duty to help the millions of Syrians who live in tragic conditions in refugee camps, especially amid these harsh weather conditions. Thousands of refugees live in tents which snow, rain and mud have swept through them in camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Syria.
Unfortunately, extremist groups did not only sabotage the Syrian revolution but they also harmed charity work as many institutions were suspected and had to suspend their work; thus worsening the refugees’ suffering.
Revive the spirit of charity
Our societies are distinguished for charity work. Among our ethics are generosity and aiding others. We must revive this spirit via transparent charity organizations where there is accountability that allows everyone to know where donations are going and how they’re spent.
During the civil war in Syria, and before that in Afghanistan, Somalia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and others, charity work was suspected and pursued by international security forces because terrorists and extremists, and even suspicious institutions, infiltrated it. Many institutions had to suspend their work after being harassed while governments banned many organizations from collecting funds out of fear they will be misused. Unfortunately, this affected the powerless refugees who can do nothing but wait for international organizations’ help. Meanwhile, the latter have been exhausted due to the large number of refugees and the multiple areas they’re present in. Delivering food, clothes, tents and medical supplies to them thus became a difficult task. Not only that but sometimes they are not even delivered as some greedy governments in the region exploit the crisis or let their officials loot this aid. International organizations thus suffer from the domination of some powerful groups in these hosting countries or transit countries.
It’s unfortunate to see how countries in the region are justifying their inaction by blaming one another and evading responsibility to help stricken people. Volunteering and donating are both part of our ethics and they’re also part of the social and humanitarian solidarity network that protects the region’s countries from the future’s woes. The entire region is threatened with wars and tragedies; therefore, reviving these good morals is a guarantee to everyone, including to people who enjoy a prosperous life today.
Our brothers in Syria, Yemen and other war-torn countries live each day at a time. They live through difficult conditions as they rely on what international and regional organizations and philanthropists provide them with. All those who work in charity deserve our respect and appreciation for their efforts in aiding refugees. Most of these workers are volunteers who came from different parts of the world. Some of them have nothing in common with those they’re helping. The only bond is humanity and the love to help others.
When we hear about those dying of hunger or cold, we feel like we’re partners in this tragedy because we can actually help them. It’s not true that there’s nothing we can do! One dollar is enough for a refugee to survive one day.
Collective and volunteer work and charity activities reflect nations’ progress and their institutions’ sophistication. When we succeed in humanitarian work and relief, then we’d be certain that we’re a nation that’s advancing and progressing in the right direction.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.