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Our Responsibility Towards Refugees Freezing to Death

Our Responsibility Towards Refugees Freezing to Death

Sunday, 21 January, 2018 - 10:15
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad.

The twelve Syrian refugees whose bodies were found frozen to death near the Lebanese borders are only a few of the hundreds who die without anyone knowing anything about them.

The Syrian people’s murderers are the weather, starvation, mass evacuation and robbery, as well as the Russians, Iranians, Assad’s forces, ISIS and al-Nusra Front. Those whose houses were not destroyed, or did not die from chemical gas or during the war may die in camps or on their escape routes out of the country seeking shelter.

If we are incapable of confronting the evil forces killing the Syrian people daily, we are not exonerated from the responsibility to aid refugees. This is the heart of our responsibility towards them. It’s our duty to help millions of Syrians who live in tragic conditions in refugee camps and shelters, especially in these harsh weather conditions. Thousands of refugees endure snow, rain and mud in camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and inside Syria.

Unfortunately, it was not enough for extremist groups to sabotage the Syrian revolution but they also abused charity work causing many institutions to suspend their work because of suspicions, thus worsening the refugees’ suffering.

Our societies love charity work and are known for their values and helping others. It is necessary to revive the spirit of volunteering through transparent and accountable charities that allows everyone to know how their donations are spent.

During the civil war in Syria, and even before that during the wars in Afghanistan, Somalia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and others, the work of charities was suspicious and pursued by international security services because terrorist and extremist groups, and even suspicious institutions, infiltrated it.

Many institutions had to suspend their work after being harassed while governments banned many fundraising activities fearing they might be abused.

Unfortunately, this affected the helpless refugees who can do nothing but wait for help from international organizations, which are overwhelmed by a large number of refugees and multiple crisis zones.

Delivering food, clothes, tents and medical supplies to refugee centers became a difficult task. The humanitarian aid is also subject to the greed of some governments in the region that exploit aid, sell it or loot it. Thus, international organizations suffer from the abuse of some powerful forces in host or transit countries.

It’s unfortunate to see how countries in the region are justifying their inaction by blaming one another in order to avoid the responsibility of helping people suffering in our region.

Not only volunteering and donating are part of our values and morals, they’re also part of the network of the social and humanitarian solidarity that protects the region’s countries from future crises. The entire region is constantly threatened by wars and tragedies, so reviving these good morals is a guarantee to everyone, including people who enjoy a prosperous life today.

People in Syria, Yemen and other war-torn countries live each day in harsh conditions. They rely on what international and regional organizations and philanthropists provide them with. All of those who work in charity deserve our respect and appreciation for their continuous efforts in aiding refugees. Most of these workers are volunteers who come from around the world, and they may not have anything in common with those they’re helping, other than humanity and love to help others.

It pains us when we hear about those dying of starvation or cold, and we feel like we’re partners in this tragedy because we could have helped them. It’s not true that there’s nothing we can do! One dollar is enough for a refugee to survive one day.

In the end, collective and volunteer work and charity activities are a sign of nation's development and progress. The day we succeed in humanitarian work and relief, then we’d be certain that we’re a nation advancing and progressing on the right path.

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