7 things you can actually do to help Aleppo
With pictures of desperate people fleeing their homes or trapped under rubble circulating, and news of the cease-fire collapsing, the horrifying reality of Aleppo is dawning on the rest of the world.
The last 24 hours in the Syrian city has seen the Syrian government forces close in on remaining rebel resistance, and thousands of civilians inside east Aleppo have been caught up in the violence and complete devastation of the city.
But what can each of us do to help?
1. Donate to the relief efforts
It can be difficult to know where your money is best spent, but the British Red Cross is delivering food and medicine to people in need and supporting families forced to flee their homes. The White Helmets (or Syria Civil Defence) are rescuing people from the rubble, while the Karam Foundation, Hand In Hand For Syria and Syria Relief are providing emergency aid, food and shelter on the ground. Here's a comprehensive list of organisations working in Syria and helping the refugees forced to flee the country.
2. Fundraise for a particular charity
Hold an event, run a marathon, or organise an auction or charity sale at your work, university or among friends to raise a larger amount of money than you can afford on your own. For charities helping on the ground, donations are essential and they can source aid from Syria itself or nearby countries so that your money goes further.
3. Volunteer your time
If you're in the medical profession look into the work that Medecins Sans Frontieres and SAMS do. Aid organisations may need volunteer translators so if you speak Arabic and can help out, contact different charities. Some charities need pairs of hands to help sort and pack items people have donated, ready to be shipped to Syria.
4. Sign a petition for a no-fly zone
The White Helmets have a petition set up calling on the UN Security Council to "follow through on its demand to stop barrel bombs" that are leaving thousands of people trapped under rubble who they can not reach. They are calling for the introduction of a no-fly zone if necessary.
5. Attend protests and campaign for no bomb zones and aid drops to Aleppo
Boris Johnson has said British aid drops over Aleppo would be impossible, saying that British planes would be "sitting ducks" and wouldn't get past Russian installed anti-aircraft systems. Basically British needs Russian permission for aid drops, which Johnson says they are unlikely to give. Of course, as foreign secretary you may believe he should be using that position to try to negotiate for aid drops. There's power in numbers, online petitions and campaigns.
6. Spread the word on social media
While some people might turn their nose up at so called 'slacktism', ie. showing your dismay for a situation like Aleppo on Facebook, spreading the word will never be a negative thing - especially if you've donated and urge other people to do the same.
7. Help the resettlement of refugees
Speak to your local MP or local government association and tell them that you want the UK to help resettle refugees. The UK only has plans to resettle 20,000 refugees by 2020 - while it may sound a lot, it's not nearly as much as many as other countries. So if you think it should be more, shout about it, campaign for it, and ensure refugee families are welcome in your area. You can volunteer to help families resettle or, if you're in a position to, foster a refugee child.