Just as the distribution of the last of 4,000 kits to Aleppo families had finished, the offices of ShelterBox distribution partner, ReliefAid were wrecked by an air strike. Working in one of the most dangerous places on earth, Aleppo’s aid workers say that time is fast running out. Moving words from an aid worker trapped in the unfolding horror of Aleppo – a city bomb-strewn and besieged. Farid (name changed for security reasons) talks to us directly from the east of the city, and the scene of an air strike on their Aleppo HQ.
Farid says, ‘On the 9 August at 8.00 am, just an hour before starting a new work day, the building next to our office get air strike. Thank God the damage is in the infrastructure, and we move the equipment to a safe place and suspended the work to ensure the safety of the team members.’
‘Actually we get used to air strikes, bombs and everything in our neighbourhoods, and all of the city. But now the situation is so different. Our work is the only reason to stay in Aleppo and take all the risk. We help our people, we bring clean water to them, we bring blankets to warm them, we bring solar lamps. This is our people, and the reason we stay in Aleppo. But now we are disappointed and shocked.’
ShelterBox has provided 4,000 aid packages to families in Aleppo via in-country partners, New Zealand-based ReliefAid. The kits they provide to families are a mix of life-saving essentials including water purification equipment, jerry cans, mats, solar lamps, tarpaulins, mosquito nets and kitchen sets. In recent days the UN has insisted that only 48 hour ceasefires will allow aid to flow again into the surrounded city, which is now mostly without clean water, electricity, fuel for generators or vehicles, with food supplies dwindling and unaffordable.
This week, the United Nations children’s agency warned that children are at ‘grave risk of disease’ unless water supplies are immediately repaired. Healthcare provision is also shattered, with Aleppo doctor Hamza Al-Khatib telling BBC Newsnight that it is ‘a nightmare for medics and for patients.’ Yesterday there were reports of a barrel bomb explosion releasing toxic chlorine gas.
Just before the air strike on ReliefAid’s offices Farid reported, ‘I couldn’t leave my home for four days because the bombing gets so heavy on my neighbourhood. I couldn’t even leave to get any food or water. My situation is similar to 300,000 other people who live in Aleppo, 19,000 of them children under 2 years.’ ‘So many families rely on humanitarian aid, they have no money, and after the (Castello) road closed they have nothing to eat. The security situation is so bad, and the bombing is so heavy. People who will not die from bombing they will start to starve, they will drink unclean water, they will die from lack of medicine and healthcare.’
Just ahead of the air strike Executive Director of ReliefAid, Mike Seawright, reported good news about the last shipment of ShelterBox aid to arrive in the city. ‘I am pleased to announce that we have completed the distribution of the remaining 250 kits to families with special needs within the city. As such all 1,500 summer shelter kits are now in the hands of over 9000 people living within the city.’ ‘It has been a challenging time for our team but I am proud to say they have managed the situation well, in what have been very difficult circumstances. Families continue to experience acute needs within the city, and we stand ready to assist those in dire need.’
ReliefAid’s brave team has been distributing shelter kits in Aleppo for ShelterBox over the last six months – a total of 4,000 kits able to support over 24,500 people.
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