As the world tries to recover following the most serious attack on France since the Second World War, we researched what you can do to help...
MAKE A DONATION
Sure, it’s not original, and it doesn’t come with a clever hashtag. But if you really want to help the people affected by the Paris attacks, donations are a surefire way to do just that. NGOs such as Medecins Sans Frontiers and the Red Cross, both of whom reacted quickly to the crisis on Friday 13th, are still working tirelessly to help the hundreds of people who were injured in the shootings. The French Red Cross deployed over 300 volunteers across the city, and you can donate to them here. Similarly, MSF, who have been working around the clock to help those affected by ISIS both at home and overseas, need your support too. Donate here if you’d like to help.
If you live in, or around Paris, this is particularly important. According to recent reports, over 190 people were injured during the attacks on Friday – and many of them are still in a critical condition, desperately in need of blood transfusions. Meaning that if you can get to a blood bank (you can find a list of them here), please do.
But honestly, even if you don’t live in France, this is still something that you should think about doing. If the Paris attacks have taught us anything, it’s that sometimes, we need to pull together. Find your nearest UK blood donation centre here, and book an appointment. You never know when you, your friends and your family – or somebody else’s friends, or somebody else’s family – might need it.
HELP FIND THE MISSING
It’s been two days since the attacks, but some people are still missing. Emma Prev is still hunting for her brother. ”My brother was at the Bataclan yesterday evening with Thibaut and Gaetan – but while they were able to escape, we have no information about my brother,’ she wrote in a post on Facebook, which has been shared over 100k times. ‘He’s not on the list of victims, nor in any of the hospitals… Maybe he’s just in Paris, in a state of shock.’
By sharing posts like Emma’s, calling local embassies (here is a list of numbers) or using the hashtags #rechercheBataclan and #rechercheParis, you can look for people who you’ve yet to hear from – or look for those who you know are still missing.
Social media can be really, really annoying. But it can also be really, really useful. As news of the first attacks in Paris began to break, word spread quickly over Twitter of any developments. And while news journalists relied on 140 character reports to stay informed, the Parisian population used it to help those who might be stranded due to the attacks. Using the hashtag #porteouverte (open door), people were able to find safe places to spend the night, rather than risking their lives to cross the city and get home.
Now, while any immediate threat appears to be over, the hashtag remains intact – and anybody who has been displaced due to the attacks can continue to use it in order to find more long term accommodation. Similarly, Airbnb have launched an emergency function that helps those in need find a place to stay in the area, without having to pay any administration fees.
Whenever disaster strikes, rumours spread – and it’s incredibly important to treat reports with a discerning eye before you share them. Since the Paris attacks, one Canadian man (who has never even been to France) has found his face photoshopped onto the body of a terrorist, and seen it printed on the front pages of newspapers across Europe. His life is now in danger. Similarly, reports of ‘hundreds of thousands’ of ISIS members crossing borders disguised as refugees are completely unfounded. There are a lot of horror stories out there, and while some are true, many are not. And if you want to help bring justice to those who lost their lives on Friday, spreading lies really isn’t the way to go about it. So check your facts first.
STAND UP FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN
We’ve all been there. You’re idly scrolling through Facebook, passing the time and / or distracting yourself from the news, when your best-friend-from-high-school / great-aunt /next-door-neighbour-but-one posts something that’s ignorant at best – and racist at worst. And while the easy option is to sigh heavily and keep on scrolling, there’s something to be said for getting involved. You don’t need to be aggressive, or confrontational. Just explain why you think their post is incorrect or inappropriate. If you can’t think of how to word your response, find an article that you feel summarises your opinion, and post that instead.