Aleppo Mosul Taiz

In addition to the ongoing siege of Aleppo, Syria, there are 1 million or more refugees expected from Mosul, Iraq (where Iraqi forces are battling ISIS) and tens of thousands more from the Yemen civil war. In Iraq alone 19,000 civilians have been killed in the last 21 months. That is six 9/11s in under two years. The vast majority of these deaths are the victims of ISIS - of terrorist attacks. Just like those in America, France or Belgium. The Iraq body count site puts the numbers even higher. In Aleppo, fears for 200,000 or more civilians trapped with dwindling food, no medical facilities have prompted the UN to call an emergency meeting, but as of today no agreement to cease fire could be reached.

France's ambassador to the UN, Francois Delattre, warned of the dire situation, saying: "France and its partners cannot remain silent in the face of what could be one of the biggest massacres of [a] civilian population since World War II."

The media are not completely silent, but the New York Times, FOX News, The Guardian, Telegraph, and CNN all provide coverage only under ‘World/Middle East” section, never on their homepage. Originally I was going to cite BBC and FOX as standouts, but while Aleppo occupied at least a sidebar on the main page (FOX) and a headline story (BBC) this morning at 8am, by 2pm Syria had moved off the docket. The most up to date and in touch with those on the ground in Aleppo is unsurprisingly, AlJazeera.

Unlike Syria, the battle for Mosul is a clear fight against ISIS by the Iraqi military - and they appear to be winning. But civilians caught in the crossfire, as well as the victims of years of terrorist attacks do not generate the same empathetic response as American or European victims of terrorism. No one changes their profile picture to the Iraqi flag colours, no flags fly at half mast, Obama rarely comments, no one’s ‘heart is with the families of the victims’.

More people die in one day in some of these conflicts than in any of the last terrorist attacks in Europe. Photos of Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi dead on the beach, and video of bloody and dazed Omran Daqneesh in the back of an ambulance caused waves of tears across the world, but the shock faded away with the American election newscycle. We need to ask ourselves why lives across the Middle-East are so easily tallied, forgotten and devalued? Why tens of thousands of violently murdered children and their families don't merit front pages worldwide?

It seems like most of the public simply feel unsure of what to do, and when the truth becomes too horrific and complicated they tune out. Other huge tides of public opinion are fearful, inevitably leading to isolationism. If you’re uncomfortable admitting to being nervous about Muslims or anyone appearing to be of middle-eastern descent, there is an alternative to accepting refugees that still can fulfil the most minimal obligations you have to them as a fellow human being. If you won’t allow refugees in your country, you can still contribute to providing them with safety from daily violence, fear and potential death, and help ensure they have the most basic essentials of life.

I have no more patience for hearing it’s not worth donating to aid agencies because ‘we don’t know where the money goes’ or ‘the money goes to pay checks for the ones in charge and to more fundraising - not the people’. I invite you to research individual organisations to satisfy your questions, but it is obvious the money is funding critical services in refugee camps that are already overflowing in countries like Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Kurdish Iraq. Right now the need is unprecedented and by all predictions the crisis is going to get much worse.

Of course there are problems in our own countries - homelessness, addiction, discrimination, cancer - and many other countries around the world still suffer famine, poverty, child trafficking  and more refugees - the list is endless. So yes, put your money in what you believe in, as well as continue to put pressure on your government to make things better for issues you care about. But always appreciate you have the freedom and security to do that, and don’t forget those around the world who are fleeing terrorists and dictators, and now have no representation, no protection, no home, and essentially no country.

It is nothing but fate and good fortune we were born into such safe circumstances. We have to admit even most of us who complain we're ‘broke’ still live in modern luxury. Now maybe more than any other time, an almost insignificant sacrifice on our part can have a significant impact on those who did not win the geographic lottery. I hope you’ll put aside your reservations and consider supporting a worldwide aid organisation. I'd wager the majority of you can afford to give up a night of drinking, a dinner out, or even just the money usually spent on junk food, to make a $25-$40 monthly contribution. Ongoing monthly donations are preferred since it helps estimate budget for the long term.

It's direct debited, it's tax deductible, and it will save and rebuild lives.


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