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How You Can Support Syria

The al-Quds hospital in Aleppo, Syria was the latest health care facility to get blown apart last week.

The 34-bed hospital was hit by a missile late Wednesday night, killing at least 50 people. One of them was Mohammad Wassim Mo’az, the last senior pediatrician who had refused to stop working in the city under siege. Al-Quds was a well-established hospital with an emergency room and an eight-bed pediatric ward; as a spokesman for Doctors Without Borders (also know as MSF) said, “What this [attack] means in very practical terms is that one of the main facilities for women to give birth and children to receive treatment has now been destroyed.”

It also means targeted attacks on health care institutions that are clearly civilian facilities are escalating greatly during a war that has consumed Syria for over five years. Missiles—presumably by the Assad regime and Russian powers—have hit seven facilities in Syria just this year. The impact of these attacks extends far beyond the lost of individual buildings. As NPR has reported:

Populations no longer have access to public health [...] They no longer have access to childhood vaccinations, and they can’t get their kids treated for pneumonia and diarrhea. It’s the deprivation of basic health resources that disproportionately kill children and block women from having safe pregnancies.

It’s important to note here here that it’s not just Syria: in October of last year an American gunship targeted an MSF hospital in Afghanistan and pounded it for nearly half an hour; that airstrike killed 42 people.

It’s also important to note that the death doll in Syria has now risen to over 400,000 and that the number of displaced people is in the millions. All the while, our country has done little to address the conflict, powerful media platforms like Facebook have continued to ignore Syrian death, and our politicians—with the capacity to provide desperately needed relief to countless refugees—have done jack shit.

I must also admit here that I too, have done very little. I’ve found myself unable to stomach the photos of bodies under rubble, the babies with missing heads and limbs, the video of a small boy crying over the body of his brother saying “I wish it was me, not you.” Instead, I’ve thrown myself into my day job (organizing around gender violence domestically) and told myself, working towards some type of justice is adequate.

But what does it mean for us to only think about violence that we deem bearable? What does it mean for the world community to turn away and inward, scrolling past any mention of atrocities whose scale and severity is incomparable in the US? What does it mean when western reproductive justice orgs show little regard for blown up maternity wards outside our borders? What does it mean for activists here to deem organizing around gender, racial, and other forms of justice domestically as adequate during a moment when war burns entire cities and countries abroad?

It means a Syrian dying every 25 minutes in the past 48 hours. And it means those of us with immense access to social, political, and financial capital within global hierarchies of power are ultimately doing very little to use it.

Please use your power. While witnessing this violence might be overwhelming, there are very clear things you can do: for starters (especially if international diplomacy is not your thing), you can join efforts to raise funds for medical relief. Please consider giving to this campaign—and sharing it with your circles—to restore al-Quds and another hospital targeted during most recent attacks, crucial lifelines to the people in Aleppo.

It is our responsibility to support the most marginalized, even when they fall outside of our borders. #AleppoIsBurning

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Mahroh Jahangiri is the former Executive Director of Know Your IX, a national survivor- and youth-led organization working to end gender violence in schools. She cares about the ways in which American militarization, racism, and sexual violence impact communities of color transnationally. You can say hi to her at @mahrohj.

Mahroh Jahangiri is the former Executive Director of Know Your IX, a national survivor- and youth-led organization working to end gender violence in schools.

Read more about Mahroh

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