According to the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring (IDMC) report published earlier this week, 2.4 million people were newly displaced within Syria in 2012, taking the total of internally displaced persons (IDPs) around the world to 28.8 million, a record high.
The IDMC says until the conflict in Syria is resolved, displacement will continue to grow and estimates that a further 800,000 Syrians have been displaced so far this year, leaving the current figure at 3.8 million.
‘The crisis is in its third year and the escalation has gone beyond a tipping point,’ said IDMC spokeswoman Clare Spurrell. ‘The internally displaced are completely reliant on others, but host communities are themselves suffering from a lack of food, and diseases are breaking out… It’s the fastest evolving internal displacement crisis at the moment in the world.’
Only 430,000 Syrian IDPs have received humanitarian assistance from the United Nations Refugee agency (UNHCR) as the conflict has escalated making it hard for humanitarians to help due to the dynamic security situation.
Whilst a truckload of ShelterBox aid is en route to Syria, a ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) is currently in the region exploring possible collaborative avenues of delivering the aid to IDPs within Syria. They are experiencing first-hand some of the security challenges.
‘Within the first few days of arriving in the region there was a Syrian air force cluster bomb attack about 500 metres from an IDP camp and 15 miles from our hotel,’ said SRT member Max Hogg (UK).
Another incident happened further east where Syrians who were prevented from exiting the country exchanged fire with border guards, raising concerns that the conflict could spill over into neighbouring countries.
‘Despite these attacks, we are going to continue to look for ways of getting the ShelterBox aid to help families in need in Syria by talking to various other non-governmental organisations working in the area.’
The ShelterBox aid sent includes water purification equipment, water carriers, insect nets, solar lamps, kitchen sets and SchoolBoxes containing children’s packs and activities. There are fears that tents supplied in the familiar green ShelterBoxes may draw attention, making displaced families a target for snipers or looters. So difficult choices have had to be made about which lifesaving items can safely be distributed without endangering the recipients.
It is thanks to the support of our donors that ShelterBox can continue to pursue operational and logistical solutions to this complex situation.