Actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and his wife, actress Isla Fisher, have donated $1m (£670,000) to two charities that are helping victims of the Syrian civil war.

The couple gave $500,000 (£336,000) to The Sunday Times Christmas appeal which aims to protect 250,000 children against a measles outbreak in Syria via charity Save the Children, and a further $500,000 (£336,000) to the New York-based International Rescue Committee, run by former Labour leader candidate David Miliband.

The donation to Save the Children will primarily go towards vaccinations administered by the children's charity in hospitals across northern Syria. A number of diseases that were historically extinct in Syria have seen a resurgence such as deadly measles, typhoid and polio.

The charity has already treated 300,000 youngsters against polio and measles but they are fighting 40 to 50 diagnoses of measles every week and more than 30 cases of typhoid in destroyed cities like Idlib and Aleppo. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by the civil war and 1,400 of the charity's volunteers are at full stretch in the war-torn nation.

Founded in 1933 the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has been helping to provide immediate aid in Syria, and also helps to rebuild schools, businesses, and health systems for long term recovery. They operate over 50 clinics and mobile teams delivering primary care, trauma services, reproductive health care, and estimate they have immunised over 1m children.

Justin Forsyth, chief executive of Save the Children, thanked the pair, saying in The Sunday Times: "By allowing us to make their generous donation to Syrian children public, Sacha and Isla are helping to highlight the tragedy of the issue today."

Baron Cohen has starred in a number of blockbuster comedies with several of his creations including Ali G, Bruno and Borat, while Fisher has appeared in popular Aussie soap Home and Away. During a press conference for the release of his 2012 film 'The Dictator' he posed as a crazed Middle Eastern despot and voiced his concern over the treatment of Syrian civilians.

He said: "On behalf of my dear friend and doubles-tennis partner, President Assad of Syria, I want to thank the United Nations for their brave inaction over Syria. Thirteen months and still no Security Council resolution. You guys are amazing. You have done next to nothing for the Syrian people. But remember: you can always do less."