How to help Aleppo from the bottom of the world

  • 15/12/2016
Injured children in Aleppo, Syria (Reuters)
Donating isn't the only passage of action to help civilians in war-torn Syria (Reuters / file)

By Ella Prendergast

Given the devastating state of Aleppo, you'd be forgiven for feeling helpless from the other side of the world.

Conflicts between pro-government Syrians and rebel forces have left Syria's largest city in ruins, with thousands of civilians dead and many more still stuck in the rebel-held eastern sector.

Many of those trapped have already posted their final goodbyes online as government forces take over.

The situation's been described as "a complete meltdown of humanity" by the United Nations. And as much as we'd like to help, donating money isn't a possibility for all Kiwis.

But there are some other options to help save lives in Syria.

Call for the Government's help

The coordinator of the Do Your Bit campaign Murdoch Stephens is calling for Kiwis to put pressure on the Government to increase the refugee quota by writing calling, emailing and writing letters.

"It's free to send a letter to Parliament and politicians have to answer those."

The Do Your Bit campaign aims to double the country's refugee quota to 1500 per year, and double funding for refugee services.

Mr Stephens says there's plenty of room for New Zealand to increase their refugee quota, but Government need to feel the heat.

"In the medium term there will be people fleeing from Aleppo and there will be no safe home for them to go back to."

Sign petitions

It takes only a few minutes to sign a petition that could lead to action. Amnesty International released a petition demanding the safe passage of civilians out of east Aleppo.

"Take two minutes to demand they safely evacuate the people trapped there now and protect people from harm," New Zealand Amnesty International says.

Like, share, and comment

While Mr Stephens says taking to Facebook is only the first step, he agrees it's better than nothing.

It's a good way to share information and there is a lot of misinformation out there," he said.

"We've all got pretty diverse networks and some people talk about this all the time while others haven't really heard about what Aleppo is."

Mr Stephens said we should take the opportunity over the festive season to spread the word through our extended families.

Become a refugee support volunteer

Red Cross run a volunteer refugee support programme to help new refugees arriving in New Zealand.

By working in teams volunteers help refugees "settle into their homes by offering them rides and support," said Alice Montague, Red Cross communications and fundraising manager.

Rally for solidarity

Syrian Solidarity New Zealand have organised rallies to protest civilian executions and create a safe passage out of East Aleppo. The rallies will take place on Friday in Wellington and on Saturday in Auckland.


For those are able to donate, there are plenty of charities open:

World Vision New Zealand works with their Syrian counterparts to deliver emergency supplies at the frontline of conflict in Northern Syria.

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is part one of the largest humanitarian networks in the world that is continuing to work in Aleppo providing healthcare to people in need. They also support Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan.

Christian World Service is the development, justice and aid agency of the New Zealand churches. They work with Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan.

Doctors Without Borders provides medical assistance to war-torn countries. In 2015 they performed over 1000 surgeries in their Aleppo based hospitals.

One of the organization's hospitals in Aleppo was hit by an airstrike in November, killing over 20 patients and workers. Despite this, many aid workers remained in the city.

Oxfam is a world-wide development organization that works to help people in poverty. In Syria, they’re supporting repairs to damaged water networks to provide clean water for thousands of people. 

The United Nations Refugee Agency provides hygiene kits, sleeping bags and medicine to those without homes. On Monday they focused their relief items specifically to those displaced in Aleppo.

Save the Children New Zealand provides emergency education and child safe spaces for displaced Syrian children in Lebanon.

Also in Lebanon’s displaced person camps, Tearfund upgrades family shelter for the cold winter months ahead.

UNICEF New Zealand focuses their efforts on Syrian children, providing vaccinations, warm clothing and shelter.

Red Cross volunteers offer medical care, water and hot meals to thousands of people who are sheltering in temporary accommodation in Aleppo's south-east.