Why We Can't Let Aleppo Become Another Hashtag Trend

It’s true that 2016 has been a bit of a shit fight.

Americans elected a racist and sexist as their leader, the United Kingdom have voted to leave the European Union and lost their Prime Minister in the mess of it all and Australia has been under severe observation and guilty of torturing refugees. There has been a huge lack of empathy and compassion for humanity this year and with only two weeks left until 2017, one of the largest genocides of our generation is happening right now.

Most of us will never forget the image of the Syrian refugee, lying lifeless, face down, washed up on the shores of Greece as he and his family tried to flee their country in September of last year. The image went viral and people were shocked and outraged. A similar video became viral again in August of 2016, a Syrian boy, five-year-old Omran Daqneesh sat in the back of an ambulance, shell-shocked, covered in dust and blood staring blankly ahead not realising the blood was trickling from his own forehead. These children are the faces of the civil war in Syria and it seems that they spark outrage for a few days, maybe a few weeks, they become a hash tag and suddenly the noise dies down… everyone goes back to their regular lives for they are not harmed, their families aren’t being massacred and their schools and hospitals are not being blown to pieces. I am guilty of this myself but we need to change.

Omran Daqneesh - Image via time.com

Omran Daqneesh - Image via time.com

Living in Australia in particular, sometimes we can feel so far away from the rest of the world however many people don’t realise their privilege. The only reason you were born in a wealthy, Western country is pure luck. Yes, Australia has our issues, issues of inherent racism, socio-economic issues and issues of climate change that all need to be analysed and addressed however we are, at the end of the day an incredibly privileged and lucky country and it is our duty to help our fellow human beings who are not as lucky.

On Monday the 12th of December, President Bashar al-Assad’s forces were closing in on the city before taking complete control and citizens of Aleppo sent out their “last messages” to the world via social media. The many posts from children, families, teachers and doctors were a last attempt to gain the world’s attention. Just like the young boys, it was a child that became the human face of Monday’s events. Seven-year-old Bana Alabed’s mother created a Twitter account to show war through a child’s eyes and they had both been tweeting in the months leading up to this capture. On Monday, a message from Bana’s mother, Fatemah,  “Final message – people are dying since last night. I am very surprised I am tweeting right now & still alive. – Fatemah” Early the next morning, the last reported tweet was from the seven year old herself. “My dad is injured now. I am crying. – Bana”

This civil war has been occurring for many years and it’s so easy to look the other way, however, we cannot become desensitised to images of war and children being pulled from the rubble. Innocent civilians are being shot in the streets and in their homes, indiscriminately, women and children alike. ‘The Daily Beast’, reported that women are choosing to commit suicide over rape by the forces and the two main hospitals have been bombed. 'The White Helmets', a volunteer rescue group described Aleppo as being “like hell” with the streets full of dead bodies.

Today in Aleppo, once Syria’s largest city, there are 80,000 people displaced, 80,000 people who have lost their homes, their livelihoods and their families. This morning as I read the tweets, the articles and the news I felt completely heartbroken and helpless yet also grateful to know that there were organisations I could donate to who were helping these people. We must not let these innocent people fade from our thoughts or become the next ‘hashtag trend’ only to be replaced tomorrow, our generation needs to be vocal, share articles, donate to charities and ask your government what they are doing to assist in one of the largest genocides of our generation. Yes 2016 has had many lows but the collapsing of empathy and humanity must not occur, we must stand together and stand with Aleppo. 

Hand in Hand for Syria

This charity works on the ground in Syria and buy their aid “according to what’s needed most in Syria at any one time.” This includes clothing, blankets, infant formula milk, anaesthetic for life-saving operations and funding ambulances. 

UNICEF

UNICEF has been providing life-saving shelter, nutrition, sanitation, clean water and psychological services to Syrian children for the past five years. You can choose to donate once off or monthly to assist in the survival of the children. 

The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS)

The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) is a nonpolitical, nonprofit medical relief organisation. They work on the front lines in Syria and neighbouring countries to save lives through medical care and treatment.

Human Appeal International Australia

Human Appeal has an Aleppo Emergency Relief donations page where you can donate to provide survival packs. These include food, water, hygiene and medical packs. They aim to strengthen humanity's fight against poverty and social injustice.