The numbers are staggering: Nearly 15,000 people killed. An estimated 200,000 people are displaced internally;  30,000 are living as refugees in Turkey; 25,000 in Lebanon; 25,000 in Jordan.  In all, about 1 million people are in need of immediate humanitarian relief.

The situation inside Syria is approaching a civil war, but there are brave humanitarians risking their safety to bring food and medicine to suffering populations. In neighboring countries, emergency relief efforts are kicking into place to provide basic assistance to refugees.  Refugees often sap the resources of the communities in which they flea, but Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey have welcomed these refugees. Various UN agencies, like the UN Refugee Agency, the UN Population Fund, UNICEF, and the World Food Program are active inside and outside Syria.

Readers and friends want to know how they can help. Here are two good options to help those helping suffering Syrians.

1) Syrian Arab Red Crescent.  This is the largest, most active humanitarian group on the ground in Syria. They have suffered mightily in their efforts to bring a modicum of humanitarian assistance to besieged cities.  Their director was killed in January, and another volunteer killed in April attempting to deliver aid.  You can support their work through the International Federation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent.

2) The UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). This is a standing pool of funds that is made available on short notice to UN agencies like UNICEF, the UN Refugee Agency and NGO’s like Save the Children or Care International. When there’s an unexpected man-made emergency like the Syria crisis or natural disaster (like the Haiti Earthquake)  CERF makes funds available on short notice for the purchase and delivery of humanitarian commodities (like foods, or tents, or “dignity kits” for women, vaccines for children in refugee camps, etc).  CERF also supports under-funded humanitarian crises that don’t necessarily attract the headlines (and donors).

On Wednesday,  CERF disbursed $3 million to a variety of UN agencies and NGOs to provide relief in Lebanon’s swelling community of refugees. That money needs to be replenished, so it can be available for Syria and also other crises that don’t get much attention. You can support CERF here. .

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