Picture: @HAbramjee

Johannesburg - South Africans have raised more than R10 million in humanitarian aid to help desperate refugees in Syria, particularly in the beleaguered city of Aleppo.

A pledge-line by the five-day old NGO #OperationSA raised R10 028 953 within five hours for the #SAveSyria campaign.

The #SAveSyria campaign was launched at the weekend following calls to assist victims in Aleppo and other parts of war-torn Syria.

The pledge line on ITV channel (DSTV 347) and several radio stations saw almost 800 callers pledging.

The biggest single pledge was R2m from the Polokwane Muslim Trust Welfare Fund.

Scores of young children, some donating their spending money, also called in.

The money is to be distributed to seven local charities who are doing humanitarian work in Syria. They are the Al-Imdaad Foundation, Africa Muslims Agency, Jamiatul-Ulama SA, Jamiatul-Ulama KZN, Al-Quds Foundation, Muslim Judicial Council and Islamic Relief SA.

Social activists Yusuf Abramjee, Yaseen Theba and Catherine Constantinides are among those behind #OperationSA.

“South Africans and foreigners opened their hearts. The donations will go a long way to ease the pain and suffering of Syrians,” said Yusuf Abramjee from #OperationSA

“We witnessed Ubuntu in action yet again. The response from the public has been amazing and we will ensure that every rand raised is used for humanitarian relief such as food, blankets, medicines and shelter,” added Abramjee.

Yaseen Theba from #OperationSA said the pledge line was a “major success”.

“The phones did not stop ringing. The shocking images from Syria also prompted many callers to donate. The over R10m raised in such a short period of time shows we are a caring nation,” said Theba who directed the Call Centre Operations.

The public can continue donating on the website www.operationsa.org and donations can also be made via Whats App and SMS: 072 3 99 99 99.

Catherine Constantinides said: “Thank you, thank you, thank you. South Africans never stop to amaze. They dig deep into their pockets and they always make a difference. We have hearts of gold. I am proud of my colleagues at #OperationSA, the many volunteers and sponsors. Well done also to the media for supporting the cause.”

Abramjee said a delegation was planning to visit Syria soon “to look at conditions and the relief work underway.” The Al-Imdaad Foundation is co-ordinating the visit.

#OperationSA will continue to work locally and internationally by engaging with partners, donors and communities “to develop projects that bring relief, hope and dignity to some of the most vulnerable people.”