NEW YORK — A new initiative by nine Muslim, Jewish and Arab youths in Brooklyn, New York seeks to provide humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has deeply affected the already vulnerable 70 million forcibly displaced people of the world. This population includes 5.6 million Palestinians, who live in crowded conditions and face growing health disparities and economic insecurity.
The raise4refugees campaign is being carried out in partnership with Islamic Relief USA. A fundraiser page has been setup with a $100,000 goal, with funds going towards food packages for starving families, building new water and sanitation facilities, and distributing hygiene kits.
Islamic Relief USA will also be using the funds to deliver medical supplies and sanitize crowded refugee communities that lack nearby hospitals and house one in every three refugees. All proceeds will be going to Islamic Relief USA, and are zakat eligible and tax-deductible.
“My parents come from one of the poorest villages in Cairo, Egypt, and have worked very hard for my siblings and me to receive the best education possible,” said Yousef Abou Areda, a 19-old-student at Columbia University and aspiring physician. “After all the sacrifices my parents have made for me so that I can succeed in the U.S., I am determined to use my education to benefit others and help those in need.”
Donations can be made at: https://give.irusa.org/fundraiser/2811920
Phoebe Donovan, 19, said that she is moved to action by what she calls a deafness toward human rights and non-local issues in the U.S. Donovan said she wants to use the material advantages she has had growing up in relative stability to work towards helping others on a global scale.
“COVID-19 casts an illuminating light on the haunting gaps in resources and in prioritization of certain human lives,” Donovan said. “This virus is a global issue, as is the epidemic of violence, as is the displacement of Palestinian people from their homes amid a crisis of resource insecurity where it’s needed most.”
Besides the fundraiser, the raise4refugees youth campaign is raising funds through a variety of creative projects and petitions. It also has educational and awareness goals. The campaign recently conducted a COVID-Diaries series, in which Palestinian refugees shared their experience with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The group also did a live interview with acclaimed Palestinian activist Amer Zahr, as part of an educational interview series with experts about the Palestine-Israel conflict and the human and environmental consequences of the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine. Be sure to follow the campaign on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook by following @raise4refugees and the hashtag raise4refugees.