© European Union 2016 - European Parliament

Four Ways to Help Refugees and Others Affected by Conflict

During recent years, we have seen an increasing number of humanitarian crises around the world; from the ongoing war in Syria, the killing of Muslims in Myanmar and the Central African Republic, to the refugee crisis in Europe as well as the worsening starvation problem in Yemen, Sudan and Nigeria. In March this year, a senior United Nations official warned that the world was facing its largest humanitarian crisis since the end of the Second World War. Furthermore, he affirmed that without collective international efforts, the current condition would deteriorate daily.

Undeniably, collective efforts to end these disasters would be unsuccessful if they were undertaken only by governments or organisations; individuals need to be part of these efforts. Certainly, we should all endeavour to help relieve the sufferings of our brothers and sisters that we see almost daily on television screens or in social media feeds. We can undertake the following four simple, yet meaningful, actions in order to play our part in these collective efforts:

1. Do not jump to conclusions, fact-check

We should accustom ourselves not to believe all issues we hear and see before conducting some in-depth research on them, particularly in today’s digital era when hoaxes are everywhere. To conduct this research, it is important that we obtain the latest updates from reliable sources, such as reputable and highly-respected newspapers or television channels. This is because frequently, events, calamities and crises that occur tend to be reported and analyzed in a way that can either underestimate or overestimate what occurs in reality. In this situation, it is crucial to educate ourselves by staying informed and conducting our own research. Some options could be to read news from different channels or to follow feels from journalists on the ground. If we do not obtain correct information about the humanitarian issues that happen around us, it is difficult to offer appropriate help to the victims.

2. Spreading Awareness

After educating ourselves properly about a tragedy or crisis, we can start to spread the information to our families and discuss it with friends and colleagues. If we have more resources, we can organise events such as seminars or public discussions and invite relevant speakers to tell their stories in a more formal manner. The intention of this is to inform others of what is happening, while simultaneously promoting a sense of caring and humanity.

It is important to note that not everyone has the same access to education that we do and that people in many parts of the world still have difficulty in obtaining news. Many willing people have more resources to help than we have, but owing to a lack of information, they are totally unaware of how they can help. Consequently, as people who have access to information, we are responsible for educating those who are less well-informed. We may not be able to help, to a great extent, but through our efforts in educating others, the victims of humanitarian crises may be helped by those with whom we share our knowledge.

3. Show your Anger

Syrian medical activist Elise Baker said: “Showing solidarity with Syrians and showing outrage for what is happening is really important. I feel that one of the things that has been missing in this conflict is significant outrage from American citizens or citizens from outside of Syria demanding action and saying this is unacceptable.”

Indeed, it is crucial to demonstrate our anger towards the humanitarian crises that are occurring. However, this should be undertaken in an appropriate and correct manner. This can be accomplished in various ways, such as signing petitions, writing open or closed letters to our respective governments, organising public demonstrations or even simply making a trending hashtag on social media platforms.

Furthermore, set a good example for our children by teaching them from an early age a sense of caring for and helping others. Let us teach our children a real sense of humanity; inspire people to do a good deed, raise awareness, help others, and most importantly, give them an opportunity to be human.

4. Donate and Collect for Charity

If we cannot physically help our brothers and sisters who are in need, we can provide material support by donating or collecting for charity. Many nationally and internationally accredited institutions perform diligent work in helping people affected by crises, and these institutions need our support.

Let us relinquish some of our possessions for those in need because, in truth, some of our wealth can also be considered to be their rights. It is vital to remember that our donations, however small, will mean a great deal to them.

This can translate into donating not only our wealth, but also our time. Many organisations give volunteers an opportunity to help them in their work of sending help to afflicted countries, as well as helping refugees who have fled to other countries. Other available opportunities may involve privately sponsoring refugees, volunteering translation services or law students and professionals can offer legal and other services.

Individual efforts like educating ourselves, spreading awareness, volunteering, showing our anger, and donating time and money may seem insignificant in ending the ongoing crisis; however, if we can collectively become involved, we can give hope to those who are afflicted. I assure you that your participation will prove to be a very rewarding experience.