Young people called upon to boost Syrian aid effort

Small UK charities join forces to engage young people in raising awareness and providing help for Syria

A coalition of UK charities is calling on Britain’s young people to provide a “tsunami” of humanitarian aid for Syria.

Aiming to harness their online networking connections, as well as their passion, the new umbrella organisation, Humanitarian Group for Syria, believes young people are key to escalating the level of support being given to the Syrian people.

Through its campaign, Help for Syria, the group is urging students to raise awareness, donate money or volunteer their time.

Basil Hatahet, chair of Humanitarian Group for Syria, called for young people to “unleash a tsunami of humanitarian relief for Syria.”

Launched at the University of London on 29 May 2013, the campaign is being promoted through a YouTube video and a website that includes listings of local projects that people can get involved with, such as helping pack supplies to be sent to Syrian refugees.

A roadshow will also be taking place, screening films and holding discussions at universities and colleges across the country in June.

Bushra Al-akraa, 21, a volunteer with the charity Hand in Hand for Syria, told Positive News: “I cannot stand by and watch people in Syria suffer. I try and help out in as many charity events as possible and I have visited refugee camps in Turkey.”

She said that social networks are an important tool because they “bring news from activists working on the ground,” and are also vital for fundraising as they allow charities to update their followers.

“UK charities have worked hard on organising convoys to Syria of ambulances filled with medical supplies. Feedback has been given of where these supplies were used,” she said.

According to United Nations data, the Syrian conflict has to date resulted in 80,000 deaths, 4 million internally displaced people and 1.5 million refugees. While around $1.5bn (£1bn) in aid has been pledged by the international community, the UN estimates that only 20% of funds have been released.

Speaking to the Security Council in New York in April, the UN humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, warned of a “point of no return.”

“The situation in Syria is a humanitarian catastrophe with ordinary people paying the price for the failure to end the conflict,” she said.

Humanitarian Group for Syria includes three UK-based charities, which provide food, clothing, medicine and on-the-ground humanitarian assistance for Syrian civilians: Hand in Hand for Syria, Syria Relief and Human Care Syria. The group is calling for other charities to join them.

The Charity Commission is backing the campaign in an effort to boost support for British charities and avoid funding being directed towards “illegitimate” organisations.