Five years after the conflict in Syria first broke out, there are now 6 million children in need of humanitarian assistance. Thousands have died, many more live under siege with precious little food, and almost half of those in need have had to leave their homes.
We have been supporting people affected by the crisis since 2012, not only in Syria itself but in surrounding countries such as Iraq as well as Greece. In the midst of this conflict, we are painfully aware that children are some of the hardest hit – many will remember nothing else than the fighting.
Recently, our partners Hand in Hand for Syria found a whole classroom of children having lessons in an underground cave in the province of Idlib.
In this video, the team from Hand in Hand for Syria asks the teachers and children what it’s like working in a cave, and what supplies they need to help their lessons. Incredibly, they don’t ask for a proper school with desks and a playground, but simply for schoolbags and textbooks.
Together with Hand in Hand for Syria, we have set up large UN specification tents in Idlib province, some of which will be used as classrooms so that children will have somewhere light and ventilated to learn.
Sam Hewett, ShelterBox Operations Coordinator, said: ‘Some of the tents we’ve provided are going to be used as classrooms, so that they don’t have to learn underground. This is just one example of the extreme conditions people are living in.’
In the winter, we worked with ReliefAid, another of our partners, to provide warm coats, hats, gloves and scarves to protect people from the bitter cold. These were not only distributed along with shelter kits to families that needed to weatherproof damaged houses, but to schools and orphanages in the city of Aleppo too.
Sam said: ‘‘It is distressing to think of children living in these awful conditions, often without safe shelter, heating, even basic food and sanitation. Our partner agencies are doing great work delivering aid in difficult and dangerous territory.
‘It is so uplifting to see images of children receiving these items, showing moments of happiness as ShelterBox clothing is given to these most deserving children.’
As the conflict moves on into its sixth year, ShelterBox is continuing to support the families caught up in the crisis. Working with partners such as Hand in Hand for Syria and ReliefAid, we are reaching people displaced by the fighting and those trapped by it.
In Aleppo, which is currently under siege as opposing forces fight for control of the ancient city, we have just finished distributing winterised shelter kits, comprising mattresses, tarpaulins, plastic sheeting, solar lights and water carriers.
For the families unable to leave the city, these kits are providing materials to repair damaged buildings and make shelters warm and more comfortable. Solar lamps bring a source of light to a city without electricity and water carriers are enabling people to collect and transport water from safe sources.
However, there is no end in sight for the conflict. There are still thousands of families in need of shelter and we need your help to reach them. Please donate today.