All of our lives are being affected by Covid-19 in some way, but those living in refugee camps or in makeshift settlements are particularly vulnerable.
We live in strange and challenging times. The Covid-19 outbreak is affecting everyone to some degree. Rightly, our priority is the health of our staff, volunteers and supporters. We encourage everyone to follow directives from government sources, stay safe and healthy.
Here in Australia, we are lucky: we are well-resourced and have a world-class health system; we are able to self-quarantine at home and care for ourselves and each other. But for people who are already homeless due to conflict or disaster and no access to healthcare, Corona virus is a new and deadly threat.
How can we help? Tents and shelter are now more important than ever to help people isolate themselves when they have lost their homes and help to limit the spread of Coronavirus. ShelterBox remains committed to reaching the most remote communities and to support them to get through the current outbreak.
Much of our protracted work is largely unaffected in the short-term: our work continues in Syria and Somaliland and upcoming projects in Cameroon and Ethiopia remain on course. Travel restrictions may affect our ability to respond to sudden-onset disasters, but we have aid strategically pre-positioned and our deployable roles are set-up to work remotely.
So, challenging times ahead; but as a disaster relief agency, we are determined to maintain and protect our ability to respond.
This month’s quote comes from Jimi Hendrix, “”Before you start pointing fingers, make sure your hands are clean.”
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CEO ShelterBox Australia
0459 959 501
Philippines – Typhoon Kammuri
A response team member demonstrates how to use a Luminaid solar light.
In early December Typhoon Kammuri, known locally as Typhoon Tisoy, ripped through the Philippines and many people across Northern Samar were severely affected. Coastal communities were hit the most and beaches were covered in the debris of destroyed homes. Electricity was wiped out, roads washed away and scores of fishing boats, the main source of livelihoods, were smashed to pieces.
Working through our Philippines office and local Rotary clubs, we supported over 2,500 families whose homes were either damaged or totally destroyed. NSW-based Response Team volunteer, Anthony Keating has recently returned from Northern Samar as part of a Monitoring Evaluation and Learning (MEAL) team.
The team undertook post-distribution monitoring activities, including surveys and conducting focus group discussions with communities who received a ShelterBox aid package. They were also able to evaluate the cash element of the project with communities who received a cash component.
Unfortunately, due to restrictions introduced by the Philippines due to Coronavirus, the team were unable to visit some of the communities where they had planned to undertake PDM activities. Due to this, the team departed early before areas of the Philippines entered a lock down period.
Somaliland – Drought
Ongoing drought and conflict have forced communities to move increasingly large distances to find fresh food for their animals, creating an estimated 2.6million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
The first phase of distributions to 1,200 households is now complete. A second phase is planned to support around 540 households, with the aid for the second phase currently in transit.
A team recently deployed to Somaliland to review the response and consider the changing context with our project partner ActionAid, as well as with the government and other humanitarian agencies. The team also joined a distribution of ShelterBox aid with the ActionAid team.
Syria – Conflict
The ongoing civil war in Syria has left over 13 million people in Syria in need of humanitarian assistance. In 2020, there has been renewed air-strikes and artillery incursions focused on the last rebel stronghold, Idlib. This has resulted in additional mass displacement of civilians fleeing from the violence in Idlib. A ceasefire has been in place since early March, which is currently still holding. Since 1st Dec 2019, it is reported that 950,000 people have been displaced.
ShelterBox has helped over 50,000 families fleeing the conflict and plans are well underway to support a further 4,233 households. Work will continue with our partners, Relief Aid and Bahar Organisation.
“We lost our livestock”, said 40-year-old Safiya as she sits next to her temporary house. Speaking to ActionAid, ShelterBox’s implementing partner in Somaliland, she said she had to carry their limp bodies from her home out to a field every time they passed away. The harshest drought to hit the Horn of Africa in two decades has killed off all of her sheep and goats. “Even our donkeys have died”, said Safiya.
Dharyaalay village in the eastern part of the Togdheer region of Somaliland, where Safiya had lived for the past 20 years, suffered from the most extreme drought in recent history. The drought resulted in hundreds of thousands of vulnerable rural communities in Somaliland losing their livelihoods.
“We’ve had droughts there in the past, but I don’t remember one as bad as the one that has forced me to become displaced”, said Safiya as she pointed towards her temporary house.
Safiya is living with hundreds of families in a camp for internally displaced people. She said they all agreed that they are used to seeing a shortage or lack of rain, but insist that they have never experienced one as hostile as the one that has killed their livestock and forced them leave their homes.
“We have no proper shelter. Until only recently have we been able to build a temporary house out of cartons and plastic bags”, she said.
Safiya has nine children, five daughters and four boys. They find it difficult to sleep in their current shelter. They either sleep outside under the stars, or together inside with no comfort or privacy.
“I have no choice, it’s me alone who is the head of the house and takes care of the children”. Her husband passed away four years before, but she gets some help from her relatives. With this help she manages to get the basic necessities of life including water and food. “Sometimes we don’t get enough money to buy batteries for the small torch we use for lighting”, said Safiya.
“We had two blankets only and we used to share them. Every night there were disputes as everyone needed a blanket to keep them warm. At times, I did not sleep day and night as my house was not protecting me from the cold and the two blankets were being used by my children. I used to worry whenever the sky collects clouds fearing the rain would smash my temporary house.”
In August 2019, Safiya collected a ShelterBox which contained two tarpaulins, rope, solar lights, mosquito nets, five blankets, a water filter and a kitchen set. Upon collecting the aid item, she said:
“This has helped my family a lot in getting light, giving enough blankets, and preventing security risks. Now I don’t have to worry as everyone has a blanket, the whole family can gather in one place and chat each with the help of the solar lights, thank you to those who donated this important kit.”
Support families affected by disaster and crisis. Please ………..
EFT: Bendigo Bank: ShelterBox Australia: BSB 633 000: Account no. 166 780 163 (please email firstname.lastname@example.org to notify us of your donation and receive your tax receipt).
Cheques can be mailed to: ShelterBox Australia, PO Box 254, Parramatta, NSW, 2124All donations above $2 are fully tax-deductible.