Our Deputy CEO, Usama Khan, blogs about his visit to Gaziantep, Turkey 

Gaza_v1-320x320On September 2015 the image of Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body, face down on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, shook the world. A year later, the dazed look on Omran Daqneesh face once again brought the plight of the Syrians to our collective attention.

A few weeks ago, I travelled to Gaziantep, Turkey to audit Syria relief efforts by Islamic Relief Canada. I met Syrian orphans displaced due to the conflict. The pain and sadness on their faces is something that I cannot forget. Children are the most vulnerable in society by virtue of their helplessness and innocence –  and we as a society have a great burden to protect them.

It’s been five years since the Syrian conflict began and there is no end in sight. The political jostling and differing interests of all the actors matter little to the people besieged. The political situation is fluid and changes on a nearly daily basis which impacts access our teams have to affected areas.

Our staff risk their lives every day to deliver vital supplies to people in need

Islamic Relief Canada does not take sides – we are impartial and neutral – our only interest is reducing the humanitarian suffering. Our staff in Syria and Turkey have shown great courage and selflessness, putting their own lives at risk while answering the call to help others. They risk their lives every day to deliver vital supplies to people in need.

Islamic Relief Canada is providing emergency relief in the form of food and medicine to those trapped in Aleppo. In addition to emergency relief, we have decided that our projects will have a special focus on the children of Syria – providing access to education, food and psycho-social support.

This week here in Canada, it’s back to school for our kids. Syrian parents should be taking their kids to school. Instead, their biggest worry is which room to keep their children in to keep them safe from air strikes.

We owe it to the children of Syria to keep them in our thoughts, to lend them a helping hand by supporting projects that will keep them safe and healthy. Let us ensure that the suffering of Alan and Omran is not in vain but rather, serves as a catalyst that enables the rest of us to respond to the plight of Syrian children, representing hope for the Syria of tomorrow.