It’s only a very important person that would be allowed to deliberately damage a ShelterBox. Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall took a saw to an edible ShelterBox to celebrate her 70th birthday, and to mark the opening of a brand new Disaster Relief Visitor Centre in Truro, Cornwall.
HRH The Duchess of Cornwall is President of international disaster relief agency ShelterBox, based in Truro. On 19 July she officially opened ShelterBox’s new headquarters, and its new public exhibition, the ShelterBox Disaster Relief Visitor Centre.
As part of the celebrations staff and volunteers gathered to sing happy birthday, and to present her with a cake in the shape of a green ShelterBox and contents including a teddy, a solar light, and tools that help families repair or replace homes damaged after disaster.
The Duchess laughed as she sawed into the cake, which was baked and sculpted by Ali Marsh from Alibachs Cornish Cakes. The cake was then shared by the invited guests, including the charity’s volunteers and fundraisers.
HRH also surprised everyone by making an impromptu and unscripted speech before departing. She said, ‘That’s the first time I’ve cut a cake with a saw! But it doesn’t surprise me. ShelterBox are always coming up with something new. I just wanted to say how wonderful all of you are who work for ShelterBox.’
The Visitor Centre is open from Monday to Saturday and any ShelterBox supporters visiting Cornwall are encouraged to pop in and say hello!
To find out more about ShelterBox or make a donation please visit; www.shelterboxaustralia.org.au
Displacement and human mobility were in the spotlight this week as the UN gathered for the first ever ‘Summit on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants.’ Monday’s signing ceremony at the start of the Summit saw IOM Director General, William Lacy Swing and UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon formalising IOM’s entry into the UN system.
This week the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) officially became a related organisation of the UN, finally giving it for the first time an explicit migration mandate.
Across the world, one person in every 113 is now an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee. If they formed a country, it would be the 21st largest. At the end of 2015 there were 65.3 million forcibly displaced people.
Migration and human mobility are now characteristic of our age, with one in seven people worldwide living or working somewhere other than their place of birth. Astonishing figures like these were the focus of Monday’s major UN summit in New York. The aim was to forge a consensus on managing our nomadic world, particularly those driven from their homelands by conflict or natural forces.
Central to the discussion is the IOM which was born in 1951 out of the chaos and displacement of Western Europe following WW2. IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration, and does so by advising governments and providing assistance to migrants all over the world. IOM has frequently partnered disaster relief charity ShelterBox, after the Haiti and Nepal earthquakes, in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan, helping Burundian refugees in Tanzania last year, and with partnership working around Syria.
ShelterBox’s Operations Co-ordinator Phil Duloy was among those to congratulate IOM colleagues on their new status in the United Nations. ‘This is of great credit to IOM, who for over 65 years have cared for those who find themselves fleeing disaster or conflict.’
‘This new role at the heart of the UN is absolutely timely, as displacement and migration are the greatest forces currently at work on our planet. We have worked with IOM all over the world in many disaster zones, and they have always brought immense knowledge and experience to those partnerships.’
‘ShelterBox sends its congratulations to IOM on a worthwhile and well-deserved honour.’
Ambassador Swing emphasised that the process reflected a growing recognition of the importance of migration, and the need to better link human mobility with related policy agendas, including humanitarian, development, human rights, climate change, and peace and security.
China and Taiwan are counting the cost of Super-Typhoon Meranti, the most powerful storm to make landfall in SE Asia since deadly Haiyan in 2013, and the strongest so far anywhere in the world this year
The typhoon season got off to a violent start in the last 24 hours as a category five typhoon – the highest rating – caused damage and evacuation across three countries in South East Asia. Super-typhoon Maranti made landfall on the China coast around Fujian Province earlier today, having already tracked across small Philippine islands in the Luzon Strait, and caused major blackouts and structural damage in Taiwan.
Maranti has hit China during a three day festival and public holiday, flooding streets, crushing cars, and forcing mass evacuations from homes and harbours in the path of the storm.
It is the strongest typhoon to hit that part of China since 1949, with winds of up to 230 miles per hour. Although wind speeds lessened after landfall, and it has since been downgraded to a category 2, they were strong enough to knock down trees and smash windows. A bizarre image was of a giant inflated moon sculpture careering down Xiamen’s city streets, dislodged from part of a display marking the Mid-Autumn Festival.
The powerful storm first brushed southern Taiwan, killing one person and injuring 44. Almost a million homes lost power, and half a million had water supply problems. Hundreds of thousands of buildings are in need of repair on Taiwan. Forewarning of the typhoon caused tens of thousands of people to be evacuated, and fishing fleets to be called back to port.
Although the Philippines avoided most of the storm, there are fears for those on some small inhabited islands in the Luzon Strait, including 3000 who live on Itbayat. It is not known yet how well they were able to either evacuate or shelter.
International disaster relief agency ShelterBox has been monitoring Meranti’s course over recent days. ShelterBox has years of experience in assisting Philippine communities during the annual hurricane seasons, and was a major aid player following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 which killed 6,300.
Alice Jefferson, from ShelterBox’s Operations team in Cornwall, UK says, ‘Meranti signals the start of a season which sees powerful storms brewing out in the Pacific, and tracking across various parts of SE Asia, particularly the hundreds of Philippine islands. For most areas Meranti came with sufficient warning for preparations to be made, but nonetheless there has been widespread damage, distress and injury.’
‘ShelterBox is standing by to see whether any Philippine islanders need our assistance, and whether their Government calls for aid. Taiwan and China have well-developed emergency provision, so it is unlikely the international community would be called to assist.’
The following is a press release from Rotary International:
Rotary and disaster relief charity ShelterBox renewed a three-year agreement to provide immediate, lifesaving assistance to survivors of natural disasters and conflict.
Rotary clubs worldwide have mobilized to provide immediate relief to thousands of displaced people quickly and efficiently with ShelterBox for 16 years. To date, Rotary members have donated US$48 million to provide shelter for families in need – 40 percent of ShelterBox’s total of US$119.6 million raised.
“The partnership between Rotary and ShelterBox has provided a place of refuge to people facing some of the most difficult and uncertain moments in their lives,” said John Hewko, general secretary of Rotary. “We are happy to renew this project partnership and honor our ongoing commitment to taking action to help communities devastated by disasters and conflict.”
Each ShelterBox container typically provides a tent designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, along with regionally appropriate supplies such as a water purification kit, blankets, tools, solar lights, and other necessities to help a family survive for six months or more after a disaster.
As part of the communities they serve, Rotary clubs help ShelterBox identify and prioritize immediate relief needs in disaster-affected areas and assist with the deployment of shelter kits, education materials and lifesaving supplies. Rotary members also fund aid boxes, become trained relief volunteers, assist with shipping customs clearance and connect with governments and other organizations in impacted areas to facilitate the delivery of boxes and aid. CEO of ShelterBox, Chris Warham said, “Rotary and ShelterBox will always stand side by side to help those less fortunate. This project partnership renewal simply indicates the strength of our long friendship, and recognizes the immense practical and funding support provided by Rotary members worldwide to enable us to reach out to families in distress.”
Rotary brings together a global network of volunteers dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. To access broadcast quality video footage and still photos go to: The Newsmarket.
ShelterBox has provided emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies for families affected by more than 270 disasters in more than 95 countries, and has already helped over 1 million beneficiaries. Based in Cornwall, United Kingdom, with 18 international affiliates, ShelterBox is an international disaster relief charity that delivers emergency shelter, warmth, and dignity to people made homeless by disasters worldwide. The agreement with Rotary reaffirms the charity’s volunteer base, enhancing its capacity to respond rapidly to disasters while keeping costs low. ShelterBox teams and their distribution partners are currently operating in Ecuador, Paraguay, Sri Lanka, Niger, Cameroon, Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
ShelterBox Australia General Manager, Mike Greenslade (himself a member of the Rotary Club of Alstonville) said,
‘The renewing of the Project Partnership agreement with Rotary International is great news for both organisations. ShelterBox has moved on hugely since the original agreement was signed, for instance, we no longer only supply ShelterBoxes but instead have a large range of equipment that we can tailor to suit the needs of the beneficiaries. ShelterBox provides a great opportunity for Rotarians to get involved with international service wether it be an Ambassador or a Response Team member.
I’ve deployed many times with ShelterBox and have seen the value of Rotary in action in almost every country I’ve visited. Here in Australia, Rotarians are essential to the day-to-day running of the organisation and fundraising from clubs and Ambassadors forms a huge part of our income. Put simply, without Rotary we would not be able to help so many people in desperate need’
While the UN decides whether to classify an air strike on a makeshift camp for displaced people in northern Syria as a war crime, disaster relief agency ShelterBox condemns the targeting of families on the run from war.
Thursday’s air strike on a makeshift camp for displaced families near the Syria/Turkey border, in which at least 28 people died – many of them women and children – has been condemned as a possible war crime by the UN.
The bombing of the Kamounia camp in the northern Idlib province came only a day after the extension of a ‘partial cessation of hostilities’ truce was confirmed. Reports say the strike on the rebel-held area was by Syrian or Russian planes, but this has not been confirmed.
Stephen O’Brien, head of humanitarian affairs at the UN, has called for an inquiry into the attack. He told the BBC, ‘Be in no doubt that all these terrible acts, wherever they happen and whoever perpetrates them, will not be forgotten and the people who perpetrate them will be held to account.’
The Kamounia camp is in the volatile region of Idlib, only 2.5 miles from the city of Sarmada and within six miles of the Turkish border. ShelterBox has been active in Syria and its neighbouring countries for over four years. Operations Co-ordinator Sam Hewett was recently in Turkey overseeing ShelterBox aid operations with in-country partners ReliefAid and Hand in Hand for Syria.
Sam says, ‘Sarmada is very close to the Turkish border and a large number of people have moved to this area because it was meant to be less at risk of this type of attack. These are large camps, and obviously not military in nature.’
‘Our partners have undertaken distributions of ShelterBox aid as part of the Sarmada camp cluster. I do not know if any of the households that we have directly supported have been affected by this air strike, and it would be very difficult to find out.’
ShelterBox Interim Chief Executive Chris Warham adds, ‘It is the most inhuman act to use women and children fleeing war as military targets. This shocking event can only fuel the desperation of thousands more families to head for the border, and the perceived safety of refugee status. Those in Kamouna, as in other Syrian camps, are classified as internally displaced persons rather than refugees, so have less protection under international law.’
ShelterBox has met HRH Prince Harry twice in the last year, once in New Zealand last May and again at the Royal Film Performance in London, last October. With its long experience of responding to Nepal’s earthquakes, little surprise that ShelterBox was invited to help plan the Royal tour.
HRH Prince Harry of Wales is visiting Nepal for the first time, undertaking a tour until Wednesday 23rd March. Nepal suffered two major earthquakes in April and May 2015. Prince Harry’s website says, ‘He has a huge amount of admiration for the resilience of the people of the country, particularly in response to the earthquakes last year. During the visit he will learn how the country has been recovering over the last twelve months.’
This is an official visit on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government, marking the bicentenary of bilateral relations between the two countries.
Cornwall-based ShelterBox, a disaster relief agency specialising in emergency shelter after natural disasters, responded to the quakes with months of aid provision and partnership working. Their teams took tools, repair kits, tents and school materials to many sites across Nepal.
In May 2015 ShelterBox also formed an alliance with Royal Gurkha Rifles Light Role Battalion to provide aid to very remote mountain communities. On Tuesday Prince Harry will be introduced to the home of the Brigade of Gurkhas, saluting the extraordinary bravery and commitment they have shown over 200 years. HRH served with the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles during his tour of Afghanistan in 2007-8, observing, ‘When you know you’re with the Gurkhas, there’s no safer place to be.’
ShelterBox was very honoured to be invited by Prince Harry’s aides to a recent meeting at Kensington Palace to help plan the current Royal Tour of Nepal.
Operations Team Lead Andrew Clark attended, as one of ShelterBox’s in country co-ordinators during the charity’s response to the earthquakes. Andrew is a former Parachute Regiment army officer, and his previous roles have included Chief of Operations during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. He has also worked as a Defence Consultant advising NATO and mentored Afghan National Security Forces on missions in Helmand Province.
ShelterBox’s Interim Chief Executive Chris Warham says, ‘It was a great honour for ShelterBox to be called on to advise on this Royal Tour, and for our experience in Nepal to be recognised at this level. Last year ShelterBox was invited to benefit from the proceeds of the Royal Film Performance as a result of our role in helping the Nepalese people to recover from last year’s tragic events. Andrew and his response team colleagues are very experienced in this area, and it is a great credit to ShelterBox to be able to share that experience with Royal aides.’
Last May HRH Prince Harry also met one of ShelterBox’s response team volunteers, Jimmy Griffith. This was at the New Zealand Governor General’s reception in Aukland’s Government House, part of a week-long Royal visit following Prince Harry’s month’s training with the Australian armed forces. It followed ShelterBox’s response to Cyclone Pam which devastated the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.
In Nepal Prince Harry will highlight the importance of conservation-based tourism in Nepal, and towards the end of his visit will learn about Nepal’s future through its young people and the challenges and opportunities they will experience in the years to come. Alongside its shelter-based aid, ShelterBox also distributed School Boxes to Nepal’s orphanages, each containing education equipment for fifty pupils. A tent was also given to a local children’s art therapy organisation creating a safe, friendly resource where children could overcome the trauma of the earthquakes.
At the end of the tour on Wednesday, HRH will visit the Kanti Children’s Hospital in Kathmandu, where he will meet child patients who were injured in accidents at camps for families displaced by the 2015 earthquakes. In April 2015 the immediate use for ShelterBox tents already stored in Kathmandu was as outdoor clinical space for damaged hospitals.
The tour will end with a reception at the UK Embassy in Kathmandu, hosted by H.E. Ambassador Richard Morris.
Learn more about ShelterBox at: www.shelterboxaustralia.org.au
ShelterBox delivers aid all over the world, and occasionally radio and TV stations connect with its Response Teams, and newspapers and photojournalists cover its work in disasters and conflicts.
But rarely does ShelterBox have a shop window to an audience of 7.5 million. This happened last Friday on America’s ABC programme ‘Shark Tank’.
Architecture and engineering design graduates Andrea Sreshta and Anna Stork first appeared on ‘Shark Tank’ in early 2015 seeking backing for their compact, waterproof solar-powered light named luminAID. The product was an instant hit, and with five offers on the table (a rare event on the Emmy award-winning programme) Andrea and Anna eventually cut a valuable deal with sports, movie and cable TV mogul, billionaire Mark Cuban.
As early as 2011 ShelterBox had spotted luminAID’s potential in disaster areas where power lines have gone down. Impressed with its weight, size and durability, the charity became an early investor, including the LED lights in its standard ShelterBox contents. 50 luminAID packages can fit into the same space that eight torches would occupy. Its unique inflatable diffuser makes it ideal in wet conditions such as floods and storms.
At the end of last year ‘Shark Tank’ broadcasters ABC were in contact with Alan Monroe of ShelterBox USA, interested in filming Andrea and Anna on deployment with ShelterBox. Arrangements were made for them to travel to Malawi – the scene of massive floods in 2015 with hundreds of thousands of families displaced – to see LuminAID in action, lightening the darkness for people who had lost all their possessions to floodwaters.
Alan Monroe hosted the deployment and ShelterBox videographer Liv Williams filmed the Malawi sequences within the episode, allowing us to produce broadcast quality footage in-house and on deployment for the the ABC network. It produced a very moving piece, with warm welcomes from smiling beneficiaries.
Rob Mills, ABC Television’s Senior Vice President of Alternative Series, Specials & Late Night, says, ‘Shark Tank thrives on discovering and supporting innovative businesses and products. It was a privilege to follow luminAID into the field and see it being used as part of an aid package by ShelterBox to help victims of flooding in Malawi, Africa. It is always good when there is a link between invention, investment and improving the lives of people in need.’
luminAID is a multi-award winner, including the 2013 Clean Energy Challenge, the 2014 Toyota ‘Mothers of Invention’, and a prize at the Chicago Innovation Awards. Last summer it was also featured in a White House showcase for technological and scientific achievements hosted by President Obama.
ShelterBox CEO Alison Wallace says, ‘ShelterBox continually scans the market for products that will help families overwhelmed by disaster. luminAID is a very clever product, and we are pleased to have been among its earliest backers. I’m not at all surprised that Anna and Andrea won support on American Dragon’s Den, and we’ll be watching these young inventors to see what they come up with next.’
Watch ShelterBox on ABC’s Shark Tank here:
Read more about LuminAID here.
At this time of year, our thoughts turn to family and home, but for many this just isn’t possible.
At ShelterBox, we don’t just help people whose homes have been damaged or lost in natural disasters, but those who have had to leave their homes due to conflict.
While many people leave their homes to escape the threat of terror and violence, such as those fleeing from Boko Haram in Nigeria or Islamic State in the Middle East, the way to safety is often just as perilous.
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the number of people fleeing war and violence in 2015 is set break a record high, with almost a million people having crossed the Mediterranean Sea to escape conflict in Syria and elsewhere.
While we may not be able to help these families return to their homes and communities as we can after a flood or earthquake strikes, we can make sure that people who are migrating to safer parts of the world have some respite along the way.
This video shows our recent work in Greece, providing emergency shelter for people who had made the journey across the sea to the island of Lesbos. Many families only stayed in our tents for a few nights, but it meant that they were able to rest somewhere safe, warm and dry, before continuing their journey on to other parts of Europe.
Your support helps us to keep helping families in need, wherever they are in the world.
For a great insight into what ShelterBox is up to, watch Operations Manager , Alf Evan’s latest webinar:
To support the work of ShelterBox, visit www.shelterboxaustralia.org.au