January 7, 2016 8:28 pm
Updated: January 7, 2016 9:02 pm

Feds extend timeline to match Syria relief donations. Here’s how you can help.

WATCH ABOVE: Federal government to extend deadline for matching donations to Syria


WARNING: This story contains images that some people may find disturbing.

The Canadian government has now extended the deadline to match eligible donations from Canadians to the Syria Emergency Relief Fund.

As of mid-December, Canadians had contributed $12 million to the fund since its September launch, Minister of International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau said Thursday when she announced that the campaign will continue until Feb. 29.

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“I’m impressed by the generosity demonstrated by those who have contributed over the last months,” Bibeau said, noting some people who had contributed the maximum allowable amount for an individual donation — $100,000.

Her announcement came as the world got a glimpse at a particularly dire situation in the eastern village of Madaya — where some 42,000 people have been under siege for six months.

Amid international attention on Madaya, the Syrian government agreed Thursday to allow humanitarian aid into the town for the first time since October.

READ MORE: Syria to allow aid into town where starving people resort to eating leaves, pets

People suffering from starvation in Madaya, which has been under siege by Syrian government forces and allied Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon since July, have resorted to eating leaves, dirt, dogs and cats to survive.

Local activists released horrific images of emaciated children and adults wasting away under the desperate conditions.

A boy in one video explained how he hadn’t eaten in a week.

The United Nations welcomed the Syrian government’s decision to finally allow aid into the city. The last time food or medical aid made it into Madaya, just 25 kilometres north of Syria’s capital Damascus, was October. But the UN warned there are 400,000 people cut off from access to the most basic needs to survive, like food and medicine.

The Syria Emergency Relief fund aims to support Canadian organizations — the Canadian Red Cross, UNICEF Canada and Plan Canada, among others —provide “basic humanitarian needs” to the millions of people affected by the nearly five-year-old civil war in Syria.

For each eligible dollar Canadians donate to registered charities, the government will match that donation with a contribution to the Syria Emergency Relief Fund —up to a maximum of $100 million.

Bibeau said the support is “crucial.”

“These funds will be allocated by the Government of Canada to meet the most urgent needs in the region, through those partners that are in the best places to deliver this assistance.”

Canadians wishing to contribute to the Syria Emergency Relief Fund, which is also working with aid agencies assisting some of the more than 4.5 million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries.

To find out how to make an eligible donation that will be matched by the federal government, click here.

Before choosing a charity to contribute to, the government suggests you consider:

  • How is the charity contributing to the relief efforts in response to the Syria crisis?
  • How will the charity use your donation to help the people affected by the crisis?
  • Is the charity conducting its own relief efforts on the ground in response to the crisis?
  • Has the charity worked in areas affected by the conflict in Syria? What did it do, and for how long did it work there?
  • If the charity has never worked in these areas, what experience does it have in carrying out humanitarian assistance in other conflict-affected countries?
  • If the charity is not working in areas affected by the conflict in Syria, where would your donation go?

(Source: Global Affairs Canada)

To search the listing of registered charities, click here.

For more information about what Canadian charities are doing to provide relief to Syrians in crisis, click the links below.

Red Cross Canada
Oxfam Canada
CARE Canada
Development and Peace
Canadian Foodgrains Bank
World Vision Canada
Save the Children Canada
Plan Canada

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