March 15th 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 risking their lives to find refuge, for themselves and their families, including the 3 million children who cannot grasp the idea of a world without the 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 UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) 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 4 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 who are 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 after their treatment.
In the most evil of worlds, humanity shines as people come together to find support even the smallest fraction of people. The Ziv Medical Center in Tzfat, Israel, for example, is a hospital that has treated over two thousand casualties from the civil war in Syria since February 2013, and is currently raising funds for the treatment and return of even more Syrians. The patients hospitalized in Ziv are treated for a long period of weeks, sometimes months, until they are well. When they arrive at the hospital they have nothing, including medical forms usually required to treat patients, yet they are treated nonetheless. Patients include Druze, Christians, Jews, and Muslims. The hospital staff take care of men, women, and children who have suffered war injuries and cannot be treated due to lack of medical care in Syria.
Driven by the determination to prevent another mass massacre such as the Jewish 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 before being taken back. Amalia’s mission is to support projects that create partnership, stability and prosperity with the Middle East and promote a safe zone in Southern Syria. They focus on South Syria with the goal of restoring civil society there. Because of a strong presence of the United Nations in that area and the border with the Golan Heights it becomes easier to envision a brighter society due to geographical advantages. Among their goals for 2017 is to bring over ten thousand injured and sick Syrian civilians into neighboring countries, partner with Syrian doctors and an ongoing medical relief program, and expand their “Bus of Angels” to Syria’s neighboring countries. Ziv Hospital and Amaliah Field Hospital in Israel have been providing medical aid to Syrian civilians caught in the Syrian Civil War, but they are still understaffed and underfunded.
At Brandeis University different groups and people came together to find a way to support the refugees. Syrians in America, [CAMERA-supported group] Judges for Israel, the Muslim Student Association, and Common Ground teamed together to raise money for this hospitals. By coming together, their fundraiser, Kneading Aid, raised over a thousand dollars that will be distributed evenly between the two hospitals that help thousands regain their health and their lives. Despite the immigration ban, together JFI and MSA 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.
Contributed by Aviya Zarur, CAMERA Fellow at Brandeis University, and the first year rep for CAMERA-supported group Judges for Israel.
This article has been republished by Brandeis University campus paper The Brandeis Hoot.