Displaced families caught between a rock and hard place in Syria

ShelterBox partners, Hand In Hand For Syria continue to reach desperate families displaced by the conflict in Syria. In recent days they have been trucking in supplies to urban collective centres that are housing families who quit the mountain town of Madaya, scene of the notorious ‘starvation siege’ which saw around 40,000 residents trapped by a military stand-off. For over a year they lived only on meagre rations of rice delivered in occasional aid convoys. When the siege broke last October children and the elderly were showing the effects of famine and could barely walk straight. Months without meat or milk had seen many making soup out of grass in the search for nutrition.

Now, although they are being fed and are relatively safe, they find themselves pawns in a relocation deal between rebels and the government. Hand in Hand aid workers have been shipping in ShelterBox mattresses, cooking equipment, water carriers, blankets and other basic items to families in the appointed collective centres, and to those staying nearby with friends and relatives or with host families.

Photos show the desperate clamour for this aid as people queue, some making precarious onward journeys overloading bikes and vans.

Another aid drop in recent days has seen tents distributed to a timeworn displacement camp in Idlib Governorate. The climate of extreme temperatures takes its toll on canvas, and many of these threadbare tents have standing in the open for years. ShelterBox and Hand in Hand have now arranged for some to be replaced. 

 

ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Sam Hewett says, ‘79 tents were distributed to replace broken tents. I don’t know how long they’d been living there – it varies between a few months to years. The Hand in Hand team has a network, either they are asked directly by a local council, or the shelter aid cluster notifies them. Then HiH do an assessment and confirm exact numbers, and decide whether it is appropriate to respond.’

You can help those displaced in Syria and other countries by donating here:

PLEASE DONATE 

Warm hands, warm hearts. ShelterBox brings heat to families on the run in the icy Syrian winter.

syria-warm-1

Displaced families in Syria are in peril in their desperation to keep warm. Last week a stove004makeshift kerosene heater exploded at the Bab Salama camp in north Aleppo, burning down two tents and injuring the occupants. UK agency ShelterBox is sending safer heaters into northern Syria.

Idleb in northern Syria is host to hundreds of thousands of families fleeing war, most of them now in vast displacement camps. But the area is also in the grip of an icy winter, with night-time temperatures as low as -9 degrees centigrade.

Some families are huddling in draughty single-room shelters constructed from concrete with tin roofs, with no source of heating and no windows. Others are living under canvas. So, the temptation is to improvise, to burn wood, or to make basic heaters out of tin cans, with naked flames and noxious fumes. The dangers are obvious, and spontaneous fires are frequent in this daily battle against the cold.

swarm002

 

So, to minimise fire-related tragedies while warming young hands, UK aid agencies ShelterBox and its in-country partner Hand in Hand for Syria have just distributed 1,000 high-spec kerosene heaters to families in Idleb.

ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Sam Hewett will shortly be travelling to the region to check on the charity’s aid programmes in Syria.

Sam says, We typically provide items to help insulate people against the cold. But it’s not always enough, as people need a source of heat as well. By providing heaters such as these people are able to get some comfort and undertake basic household activities such as cooking.’

‘But it also helps to prevent diseases—particularly those related to long-term exposure to cold and damp conditions and noxious fumes—that they would be exposed to from using improvised stoves.’

The 1,000 Diora kerosene cooker/heaters come supplied with fuel, and the families are shown how to use them safely and with proper ventilation.

swarm006

You can help those displaced by the conflict in Syria by donating to our Syria Refugee Appeal here:

PLEASE DONATE

At last, heartwarming photos of Aleppo’s children receiving ShelterBox aid

aleppo-image015

They have been on the most terrifying of journeys unaware that the world was watching. Now thousands of the children of Aleppo have reached relative safety, been given warm clothing, their families receiving aid from disaster relief charity ShelterBox and its partners

At one point these are the photos we thought we’d never see. Thousands of Aleppo families bussed out of the world’s most war-ravaged city to be greeted at displacement camps, and given clothing and other aid that has waited at a tantalising distance for months.

aleppo-image016

These images just received at ShelterBox’s Cornwall HQ show aid workers from in-country partner, London-based Hand in Hand for Syria, greeting the most vulnerable of the exodus from Aleppo. The aid shown is hats and scarves –  essential as it has started to snow in the region – and other non-food items supplied by ShelterBox. It is part of an ongoing programme to help families displaced by the Syrian civil war.

ShelterBox Operations Co-ordinator Sam Hewett says, ‘The fighting in and around Aleppo that has been broadcast in recent weeks is indicative of the intolerable position that people throughout Syria are forced to endure.’ 

Due to the support of our generous donors, ShelterBox has been able to support people as they are evacuated from the city with items such as clothing and bedding, to shelter them from the cold winter conditions. This would not be possible without the presence of our partner organisations, whose staff share the same fatal risks as the people they are trying to help.’ 

aleppo-image018

Hand in Hand for Syria’s team are reported to have all escaped Aleppo over the weekend, and the last of New Zealand-based ReliefAid’s team of 40 Aleppo residents has just been reported safely evacuated.

The actual locations of this latest aid distribution are being withheld for security reasons.

aleppo-image020

You can help by donating here: Please Donate

Which way to run from war-torn Mosul? How desperate do you have to be to flee across the border into Syria?!

Syria seems the very opposite of safety or sanctuary. But as aid agencies in Iraq steel themselves for a possible outpouring from Mosul, ShelterBox and its partners find that even Syrian camps are now becoming boltholes for families on the run. 


Shelterbox aid being distributed to Iraqi IDPs

Mosul in Iraq, home to over a million civilians, now trapped by an intense battle to reclaim the last ISIS stronghold in the country. At any point, in any numbers, in any direction, hundreds of thousands could suddenly be on the run from warfare.

Some 80,000 civilians have fled Mosul and nearby areas so far, and the United Nations is preparing for a worst-case scenario in which more than a million people are made homeless as winter descends. ‘Children and their families in Mosul are facing a horrific situation. Not only are they in danger of getting killed or injured in the cross-fire, now potentially more than half a million people do not have safe water to drink,’ said UNICEF’s Iraq representative Peter Hawkins.

Iraqi children wearing red ShelterBox hats, scarves and gloves

Now reports from a partner organisation distributing ShelterBox aid in Hasake Governorate point to significant numbers fleeing east from Mosul into Syria. New Zealand based ReliefAid is one of ShelterBox’s long-standing distribution partners in Syria. Likewise London-based Hand in Hand for Syria, delivering ShelterBox tents and warm clothing to Syrian displacement camps (see photo), also finds some beneficiaries are from Mosul.

ReliefAid Executive Director Mike Seawright says, ‘We recently completed our ShelterBox distribution in Syria’s North Eastern Hasake Governorate, bordering Iraq. We were supporting a refugee camp in which 80% of the families were from Mosul or surrounding areas.’

This is a constantly changing situation, but ReliefAid reports that thousands of families from Mosul have recently found crossing the border into Syria preferable to taking their chances in Iraq. This is counter-intuitive, a turning of the human tide, which is forcing families from one dire situation into another.

And now the military offensive on Raqqa in Syria is creating another dynamic. Mike Seawright adds, ‘The offensive against ISIS in Raqqa is displacing more civilians into Hasake Governorate. Initial reports are that displaced families have been arriving into camps in the North of Syria over the last few days. These numbers are expected to increase as the military action gains momentum. Combined with the Mosul offensive unmet humanitarian needs, including shelter, are expected to continue to increase dramatically within the Governorate.‘

mosul4

All ShelterBox partners in Syria and Iraq – ReliefAid, Hand in Hand for Syria, ACTED and new associates Czech-based People in Need – deliver life-saving aid to communities under fire, working in some of the most dangerous places on earth, security issues dictating discretion and a low profile. 

Alongside ongoing work inside Syria, ShelterBox has been preparing for whatever Mosul will create in terms of humanitarian need. Via ACTED households in Northern Iraq have already received basic shelter-related kits from ShelterBox, and tents and aid are prepositioned ready to deploy as families are displaced from the fighting. 1,000 beneficiary households in Ninewa and Erbil Governorates will receive first line shelter support. Thousands of lightweight tents are also on standby, for use in agreement with Shelter Cluster leads.

ShelterBox’s Rachel Harvey has just ended a deployment to Iraq, including a field visit to locations in Ninewa province where aid convoys have to pass through several military checkpoints. Rachel said of this journey, ‘The close proximity of the fighting is really striking. One minute you are drinking coffee in a hotel, an hour and a half later you are driving through an obliterated village on your way to deliver aid to people displaced by a conflict you can hear being waged on the horizon. The distance between peace and relative prosperity, and the devastation of war is frighteningly short.’ 

Response Team volunteer, Jack Bailey is still in Iraq training partners in use of the charity’s aid. Jack says, ‘Our preparedness is the result of months of planning, and of course the generosity of our donors. But, however much notice we have had of a Mosul displacement, there are still many unknowns. We will have to respond as events unfold, and look to our supporters to help us meet the demand.’   

ReliefAid has had to make the difficult decision to move its current winter aid distribution to the Idlib countryside as a result of the terrible situation in Aleppo City. Continued attacks against civilians, extreme medical shortages, zero access to humanitarian assistance and severe food shortages are causing the already dire living situation to deteriorate rapidly.

Aleppo, Mosul, now Raqqa. ShelterBox and its international partners stand ready to help families on the run from war wherever it is safe to do so. But this region will soon be in the grip of an icy winter, with storms and freezing overnight temperatures a real threat to families trapped in ruined cities,  fleeing across desert or up into the mountains.

ShelterBox helping the displaced residents of Darraya, Syria

End of a four year siege. Victims of ‘starvation or surrender’ war zone head towards a displacement camp of ShelterBox UN style tents

Hand In Hand for Syria volunteers unload ShelterBox aid in Idlib

For a gruelling four years, residents of Darraya in the Syrian capital Damascus have lived under siege, with little aid and people starving to death. A new deal is seeing thousands of civilians moved to displacement camps in the south and north, where ShelterBox tents are waiting.

Caught since 2012 between the regime and the rebels, the people of Darraya in Damascus have endured a miserable four years as pawns in a deadly stand-off. An unknown number have died in fighting, bombing, or of malnutrition.

Over the weekend a huge evacuation was triggered by a military deal to cease fighting, which has been characterised as a long running ‘starve or surrender’ strategy. An estimated 8,000 civilians moved by foot and then onto aid buses to uncertain futures in displacement camps either in Sahnaya to the south west, or to Idlib in the north. 

ShelterBox has supplied thirty large UN-style tents and other non-food items to a camp in Idlib Governorate near the Turkish border. Much of this aid was trucked in months ago, and more is queuing at the border. The tents have been delivered and erected by ShelterBox’s in-country partner organisation, London-based Hand in Hand for Syria.

Around fifty green and white buses, eight ambulances and several Red Crescent and UN vehicles stood ready early on Friday waiting for the signal to drive into Darraya. The suburb of Damascus now lies in ruins. Tearful residents said their final goodbyes. This is the hardest moment, everyone is crying, young and old,’ said one resident. The first buses to emerge with evacuees carried mostly children, elderly people and women.

ShelterBox Operations Co-ordinator Sam Hewett says, The siege of Darraya has been one of the longest-running human tragedies in Syria. Although thousands have left their homes this weekend, they are heading to safer places where there will be food, water and shelter. An exodus on this scale is hard to witness, but at least ShelterBox and Hand in Hand for Syria have been able to provide some comfort for these weary people displaced by war.’

HIHS volunteers unload a truck

United Nation’s humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien reported to the Security Council earlier this year that the lack of food in Darraya was forcing some people to eat grass, and that residents were burning plastics as fuel. No one will remain here,’ said Hussam Ayash from Darraya.Our condition has deteriorated to the point of being unbearable.’

The UN said it was not involved in negotiating the deal, but that a team will enter Darraya to identify civilian needs. UN envoy Staffan de Mistura says, It is tragic that repeated appeals to lift the siege of Darraya and cease the fighting have never been heeded. He added it is ‘imperative’ that its residents be protected, and evacuated only voluntarily, adding, The world is watching.’

You can help by donating here: PLEASE DONATE

‘How long will food and water last?’ Aleppo city now in a stranglehold

ShelterBox is fearful for 300,000 residents completely cut off from aid

 

Aleppo - child with destroyed cityscape background

Aleppo – child with destroyed cityscape background

Syrian Government and rebel forces are locked in conflict over the divided city of Aleppo, with essential aid lifeline the Castello Road now impassable. An estimated 300,000 civilians, 60% of them women and children, are caught in the crossfire with dwindling supplies of food and water.   

In a volatile and fast-changing situation, Syrian rebel fighters are continuing their assault on government-held districts of Aleppo after troops cut their only route into the divided northern city.

Aleppo is now effectively partitioned, with much of the west of the city held by Syrian Government forces, while rebel troops occupy the east. Attempts by rebels to re-open the arterial Castello Road, the only route to the east and the last remaining aid lifeline, have failed.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary general Ban Ki-Moon, says, ‘An estimated 300,000 people residing in eastern Aleppo city depend on the (Castello) road, which allowed the flow of humanitarian supplies, commercial goods, and civilian movement. We continue to receive distressing reports of aerial bombardment and shelling on civilian locations in both western and eastern Aleppo city.’ He has called for the ‘rapid, safe and unhindered evacuation of all civilians who wish to leave.’ But all exits are now blocked.

Aleppo is Syria’s largest city, its financial and industrial hub. Of enormous historical significance, it is one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world. Now vast areas lie in ruins, and without utilities and infrastructure much of it is uninhabitable.

Attacks against areas of eastern Aleppo have continued unabated, with civilians indiscriminately killed and injured, and there are warnings of humanitarian workers being targeted. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that, ‘hundreds of mortars and projectiles were launched on western Aleppo. From 8 to 11 July, 57 people were reportedly killed including 15 children and 497 were injured.’

The BBC’s Middle East Analyst Diana Darke describes this as ‘Syria’s end game’ adding that ‘Aleppo is no stranger to sieges – there have been at least eight recorded across its turbulent history. But this one promises to last longer than all the others put together.’ In recent days it has been reported that military targeting of water supply networks is now a daily occurrence. When the water pumping station at Al-Khafsah in Aleppo failed, cutting off water supply to half of the city, there was panic and chaos, with people resorting to drinking from puddles in the streets.

Charity Save the Children says that hospitals and schools are also being attacked, with at least nine medical facilities bombed in the past week in Aleppo and Idlib. It warns that the whole of Northwest Syria is on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe.

ShelterBox has been providing aid to Aleppo for many months via distributing partner charities – London based Hand in Hand for Syria and New Zealand based ReliefAid. Consignments of 4,000 Shelter Kits, containing a variety of essential items such as jerry cans, mats, solar lamps, tarpaulins, mosquito nets, kitchen sets, and water purification equipment, have been delivered by ReliefAid over the last 6 months, 1,500 of them just before the Castello Road closed.

 

Aleppo Relief Aid warehouse

Aleppo Relief Aid warehouse

ShelterBox partners ReliefAid say that there are already fuel shortages in eastern Aleppo, critical because so many people and businesses rely on generators for power.

ReliefAid Executive Director Mike Seawright also noted, ‘In addition the price of food and other basic commodities essential for daily living have sky-rocketed overnight. Families already suffering acute food shortages are left wondering how they will put food on the table.’

ShelterBox Operations Team Lead Alice Jefferson says, ‘We are glad to have been able to place aid very recently into eastern Aleppo via our partners ReliefAid, part of an inward flow over many months. But now with all aid routes cut off it is hard to see what the next step can be.’

‘Hundreds of thousands of civilians are trapped in areas that are being bombarded, and no-one can tell how long essential supplies of food and water will last. ShelterBox and its in-country partners are ready to deploy again as soon as humanitarian access is granted.’

Five years of war in Syria have claimed the lives of more than a quarter of a million people. Millions have fled the conflict, but nearly 18 million people still live in the war-torn country. The United Nations estimates more than 6 million of them are classed as ‘internally displaced’ after being forced to flee their homes to look for safer places to live. Most have fled the cities to seek shelter in the countryside.

ShelterBox has provided tents, shelter kits, clothing and educational equipment, both inside Aleppo, and in displacement camps within Syria and refugee camps in neighbouring countries including Iraq Kurdistan, Jordan and Lebanon. ShelterBox’s Operations team is monitoring the latest developments, and is in touch with colleague organisations on the ground in Syria.

You can help by donating to our Syria Refugee Appeal

ShelterBox Providing Comfort To Children Living Through Conflict In Syria

Close-up portrait of young Syrian girl

A child in Idlib province, where we are partnering with Hand in Hand for Syria to provide tents for shelter and for classrooms. (Credit Hand in Hand for Syria).

 

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.’

 

Syrian children wrapped in fleece coats, hats, gloves and scarves

Children in schools and orphanages from Aleppo, Syria receive warm clothes during the bitter winter weather. (Credit ReliefAid)

 

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.

 

Trapped At The Turkish Border – ShelterBox Sends More Aid

Bomb damage in Aleppo

Fighting in Aleppo, Syria causes thousands to flee to the Turkish border

 

Thousands of Syrian families are trapped at the Turkish border as they struggle to escape the front line of fighting. Many have young children to look after and nothing to protect them from the elements.

In the past few days, up to 70,000 people have fled Aleppo, Syria’s second city, as the regime pushes forward through northern Syria. With fighters on the ground supported by airstrikes, nowhere is safe and few buildings are still intact.

There is no clear route to safety, as the border crossing into Turkey at Bab al Salam is closed. Trapped between the encroaching army and a closed border, families have had no choice but to sleep outside in temperatures as low as -5°C.

We are determined to provide warmth and shelter for these families and a ShelterBox response team is currently based in the Turkish city of Gaziantep to identify how we can best we can support them.

ShelterBox operations coordinator Sam Hewett said: ‘These people have suffered enough, fleeing their homes due to warfare, and they deserve all our efforts to provide them with shelter, food, healthcare and safety.’

The team is working with long-term partners Hand in Hand for Syria to deliver the vital aid. Ahead of the arrival of sturdy, durable tents, the team is sourcing emergency kits to distribute to families. These kits contain blankets, mattresses and tarpaulins to protect people from exposure to the freezing conditions.

Around 4.6 million people have fled Syria since the civil war began in 2011, and another 13.5 million are said to be in need of humanitarian assistance inside the country. The majority of people have fled to the bordering countries of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. In Lebanon, a quarter of its inhabitants are now Syrian refugees.

ShelterBox has been supporting families displaced by Syria, both in the country and elsewhere, since 2012. Working with a range of partners in Syria, we have distributed a variety of essential items from tents and shelter kits, to thick blankets and cold-weather clothing for children. In the past year, we have been supporting refugee camps in Iraq and providing temporary respite for families arriving in Greece before continuing their journey onwards into Europe.

A donation of $120 will buy an emergency kit containing blankets, mattresses and tarpaulins for a family. By donating now, you can prevent another night of freezing winter conditions to people exhausted by war.

As The Vienna Talks Begin, ShelterBox And Its Partners Continue To Reach Out To Displaced Families In Syria

Young Syrian boy holding a ShelterBox sign in from of tent

© Violet Organisation

 

Of all the families on the refugee trail these are the hardest to reach, and the hardest to help – Syria’s internally displaced, people caught in the crossfire within their own country. But aid is getting through, as ShelterBox and its partners deliver with determination.

The world watches hopefully as talks begin in Vienna, bringing to the table the power-brokers who are backing rival sides in Syria’s civil war. The aim is to close the gap between the US and its allies, who support the rebels, and the key foreign allies of the Syrian government, Russia and Iran. This is the first time that Iran has been involved in diplomatic moves towards conflict resolution.

Four years of war in Syria have left a quarter of a million dead, and forced half the country’s population – around 11 million people – from their homes. Hundreds of thousands of them now live under canvas in fast-growing encampments, mostly in the north of the country.

ShelterBox has been working across Syria and its geographical neighbours all this time, helping refugees and displaced families in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraqi Kurdistan and well into Syria itself. Getting aid into this volatile war zone has meant very careful negotiation of so-called ‘aid pipelines’, the discreet movement, distribution and allocation of equipment, and effective in-country partners who can operate cautiously in hostile conditions using their local knowledge.

Among these are London-based Hand in Hand for Syria (HIHS) who were the first to take humanitarian aid into Syria shortly after the conflict began in 2011. HIHS and ShelterBox have supported newly displaced people in northern Syria for over two years, and even managed to deliver school equipment into war-torn Aleppo. A new shipment of aid for a further 1,000 families is now being dispatched.

ShelterBox’s newest partner is the Violet Organisation, a Syrian non-governmental organisation  shown in the photos accompanying this press release. 350 large UN specification tents and tarpaulins have been transported to Syria, bound for distribution in camps.

Volunteers from the Violet organisation erect tents donated by ShelterBox

© Violet Organisation

200 UN tents supplied by ShelterBox have also just been distributed by theInternational Organisation for Migration (IOM), mostly to replace those damaged by time and climate over the years of conflict.

Operations Co-ordinator Sam Hewett has recently returned from the Iraq / Syria border territories, where he and ShelterBox colleagues were assessing conditions in many long-established refugee camps, and helping to plan new provision for Iraq’s own internally-displaced population.

Sam says, ‘ShelterBox gives you a global perspective on the refugee crisis – from its origins within Syria, to border territories such as Iraq and Lebanon, and on into Europe where we were recently providing respite for thousands of families arriving on the Greek islands.’

‘At every stage these are stories of great hardship and desperation. The scale of it can overwhelm, so we focus on what is achievable, and where the aid provided by our generous donors can help best. As these photos show, our in-country partners make it possible for ShelterBox to reach those trapped within Syria, whose lives are uncomfortable, uncertain and unsafe.’

Air strikes across Syria have intensified in the last month as the Russians have flexed their air power. The UN says 120,000 people fled from Aleppo, Hama, and Idlib provinces between 5 and 22 October, the places where most Russian bombing has taken place and where Syrian Army ground pushes have occurred. The Russians claim that no civilians have been killed, but they have been using cluster munitions that western air forces shun for their indiscriminate effect.  

It is estimated that almost half of Syria’s population has now been displaced, but that six million of them remain within Syria’s borders. Only those who cross borders are classed as refugees, and therefore entitled to the support of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. The internally displaced do not enjoy even that status.

You can help by donating to our Syria Refugee Appeal here: PLEASE DONATE

 

2014 Reflections: The Syria Conflict

Syrian children in a classroom, receive ShelterBox school packs

 

It’s been a busy 2014 for everyone connected with ShelterBox. This past year we have sent aid to 25 different disasters and throughout this holiday season we will be looking back at how these responses have made a difference to families in need as a direct result of the support of our donors.
One disaster, which we have continued to respond to throughout the year, is the ongoing conflict throughout Syria, Lebanon, the Kurdistan region of Iraq and Jordan.
In the three years since the conflict first broke out in Syria, more than 9 million people have been forced from their homes in the war-torn country, after being exposed to violence and unremitting fighting. The majority now remain within the borders with no home to go to and no possessions. More than 3.2 million refugees still seek safety and shelter across neighbouring countries.
The vast majority of fleeing families arrive with little more than the clothes on their backs. Many are injured from continuous bombing and shelling. They have no regular food and no income. Men, women and children are suffering through no fault of their own. They are in desperate need of shelter and other vital supplies.
ShelterBox has to date sent aid to support more than 5,000 families in Syria, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan in some truly challenging situations. Throughout 2014 our aid efforts have continued in earnest, working with partner organisations to continually preserve to deliver vital aid to where it is needed the most.
One of the aspects of life that has been most greatly affected is education. Children whose families are on the run from conflict in Syria have been described as a generation lost to education. However ShelterBox is helping to bring refugee children back into the classroom.
Working with long-term partner charity ‘Hand in Hand for Syria’, ShelterBox has been sending truckloads of aid deep into Syria, containing tents, shelter repair kits, mosquito nets, water filters and carriers, blankets, groundsheets, solar lamps and most importantly for some, ShelterBox SchoolBoxes. As the above video shows, our SchoolBoxes contain essential supplies for teachers, including wind-up radios that also charge mobile phones, and school equipment for 50 children. They also include blackboard paint and a brush – these two items alone can transform any flat surface into a focus for learning. School packs, in bright yellow material bags, also contain stationery, pens and calculators along with drawing and maths equipment.
ShelterBox continues to work to assist families in need in the region. As another winter closes in on those who have lost their homes, thanks to the support of our donors, we strive to help bring families in from the cold.