In recent weeks, Shaping the Story has looked at the ongoing refugee crisis stemming from the conflict in Syria. Relief agencies are struggling to cope, having raised only a fraction of the funding necessary for the massive scope of operations required to deal with the situation.
A new partnership is looking to buck the trend, raising money from U.S. citizens to help support the millions impacted by the intractable Middle East conflict.
After being contacted by the White House, crowdfunding website Kickstarter has teamed up with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to raise money on behalf of Syrian refugees. The Guardian will contribute video reporting on the crisis to be featured on the campaign page.
The alliance correlates with the Kickstarter’s new socially oriented direction. Recently reincorporated as a Public Benefit Corporation, Kickstarter possesses a charter requiring it to invest in nonprofits and expend resources on social good causes. The partnership will surely satisfy a portion of the company’s obligations.
It remains unclear if Kickstarter will profit from the campaign, or if all resources raised will go to relief efforts.
As governments in Europe struggle to produce a unified response and raise the requisite funding, this development is a welcome addition to humanitarian relief efforts. The world is witnessing the single greatest displacement of people since World War II. Many countries receiving massive influxes of refugees – from Turkey to Greece, Italy to Lebanon – are so cash-strapped that they cannot provide meaningful unilateral assistance. The situation is exacerbated by xenophobic tension in host countries, evident in the hostile reception of refugees in countries such as Hungry.
Desperate people are also subjected to risky, potentially lethal migrant routes. Mediterranean raft travel has grown in frequency, as refugees try to land in European Union nations. This has resulted in a number of tragedies, including drownings. This horrific reality was documented in the widely circulated image of a drowned Syrian boy discovered on the coast of Turkey.
While a truly impactful approach will require the collaboration and robust efforts of world governments, the Kickstarter-UNHCR partnership will at least get the ball rolling. Visit the campaign page to learn more about how you can help make a difference.