Social media does more than share information about Syrian refugees; it offers ways you can help them.
Here are five ways that highlight how social media supported Syrian refugees in the past year:
- Humans of New York: A massively popular Facebook page with nearly 17 million Likes, Humans of New York has raised awareness of the plight of Syrian refugees by featuring people like Refaai Hamo. His story moved actor Ed Norton to start a campaign to support Hamo and his family. Hamo also received an invitation as an honored guest to President Obama’s final State of the Union address.
- Twitter: When Gissur Simonarson tweeted a photo of Syrian refugee Abdul Halim al-Attar selling pens on a Beirut street with his 4-year-old daughter draped over his shoulder, it sparked the hashtag #BuyPens and Simonarson opened Twitter account @Buy_Pens. An ensuing campaign raised around $200,000 for al-Attar and his family. With the funds, al-Attar has opened three businesses in Lebanon and employs 16 other displaced Syrians.
- Kickstarter: In October, President Obama turned to American businesses to create solutions that help Syrian refugees. Crowdfunding website Kickstarter responded with its first charity effort, launched in partnership with the United Nations. More than 25,000 donors raised $1.77 million, funds that helped provide over 7,000 refugees with “immediate necessities.”
- One Refugee Child: From Greece, where Syrian refugees continue to arrive, Anca Ponea posted on Humans of New York about the plight of young refugees. American Marie Beechy read her post and reached out. The women united via Facebook to start One Refugee Child, an organization that “raises funds to improve the day-to-day lives of refugee children.” To date they have sent over 200 strollers, plus other supplies, to Greece and Turkey.
- Tech-savvy refugees: “There’s a lot of technology … the level of organization that I see here in this context is new,” Alessandra Morelli, an official with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, told CNN about refugees and migrants who cross the Mediterranean. Refugees use Facebook to call for help if they get stranded at sea and even to ask which tents they should purchase for their journey.
Americans have welcomed more than 3 million refugees since 1975, and more than 600,000 refugees in the last decade alone. In fiscal year 2016, the U.S. will welcome 85,000 refugees from around the world, including 10,000 from Syria.
Since the crisis began, the U.S. has contributed more than $5.1 billion in humanitarian assistance to people affected by the conflict in Syria. That includes an additional $601 million in lifesaving humanitarian assistance announced by Secretary of State John Kerry on February 4.