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“Supporting Syrian Refugees from Washington DC”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Brett Bowers

Supporting Syrian Refugees from Washington DC

“The Syrian refugee crisis is being described as the worst since World War II: 14 million people out of Syria’s population of 22 million have been killed, displaced, or are in need of humanitarian assistance, and over 4 million have fled the country, the vast majority of whom are women and children. The Syrian Government and its international backers have been engaged in a ruthless bombardment and displacement campaign against the civilians of Syria, driving huge flows of refugees. The rise of extremist groups like ISIS have further diminished hope for the displaced.

This February, over 200 humanitarian activists and concerned DC residents gathered in Columbia Heights in support of Syrian refugees, raising $27,000 for Syria Relief & Development in the process. Shira Miller organized the event along with other former Obama campaign organizers. Shira explained #DCforSyria was created because many of us were “moved by the heartbreaking images of the refugee crisis” and “frustrated that some of our country’s loudest voices were not representing our core values of tolerance, diversity and moral leadership.”

The theme of American values was picked up by Qutaiba Idlbi, a Syrian refugee and asylum seeker. He expressed the envy he had toward American freedom. As a student activist in Syria when protests broke out in 2011, he was detained for distributing human rights materials and reporting with CNN and SKY news. Now that he is in the U.S., he is often asked about what it means to be an American. He says that even without the proper papers he needs to fully be a resident, he feels that being an American is about more than just paperwork —it’s about being able to “say what you want and most importantly to stand for your moral standards.”

This gathering raised enough money to fully fund a summer youth program for 300 refugee children living in Amman, Jordan, and helped to increase awareness about the crisis. It was also a call to action to challenge ourselves and others to uphold our values about taking action to back up these moral standards. On Wednesday, dozens signed up to volunteer and #DCforSyria encourages other concerned Washingtonians to join.

Here are 8 ways you can take action, stand up for our moral standards, and help address this humanitarian crisis: 

  1. Volunteer to welcome resettled refugeesin our DC/VA/MD community by offering your hand or providing your unique skills through this volunteer sign-up form. Opportunities for assistance include:

Help refugees with economic stability: fixing resumes, supporting job searches, filling out university

Support refugees with English conversation sessions.

Welcome refugees with transportation assistance and other misc. needs

  1. Donate to one of many organizations doing tremendous work on the ground including SyriaRelief & Development (donate).
  2. Host a fundraiser and call to actionin your community. Contact [email protected] for our Host a Syrian Refugee Fundraiser toolkit. 
  3.  Get educatedabout the Syrian conflict, the atrocities that drive the flow of refugees, and the political ramifications of anti-refugee backlash against the world’s most vulnerable people.
  4.    Contact your Congressional Representatives andGovernor to urge them to prioritize the protection of civilians in Syriafrom a federal perspective. Further, urge them to support an increase in the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. and oppose anti-refugee measures – specifically HR 4038, the American SAFE Act. Find your representative here.
  5. Doctorswho are willing to travel closer to the heart of this crisis. Contact the Syrian American Medical Society here to join a medical mission to areas most in need.
  6. Lawyers who are willing to help with resettlement petitions on a pro bono basis. Contact the International Refugee Assistance Project at [email protected]for more information.

8.     Open your organization or place of business for pro bono services (e.g., translation, therapy, etc) and post where/how volunteers can help .”

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