Iraq’s Displaced Families To Receive ShelterBox Aid

RAQ KURDISTAN. SEPTEMBER 2013. ShelterBox had aid prepositioned in the Iraq Kurdistan leftover from its last response in the country when it provided shelter for Syrian refugees in August 2013 at Qushtapa camp near Erbil, pictured here. (Simon Clarke/ShelterBox)

IRAQ KURDISTAN. SEPTEMBER 2013. ShelterBox had aid prepositioned in the Iraq Kurdistan leftover from its last response in the country when it provided shelter for Syrian refugees in August 2013 at Qushtapa camp near Erbil, pictured here. (Simon Clarke/ShelterBox)

 

ShelterBox aid prepositioned in the Kurdistan region of Iraq is imminently being distributed by an in-country partner to bring shelter to families displaced by the country’s recent conflict.
Fighting between armed opposition groups has forced many families to head north to Iraq Kurdistan to seek safety.
ShelterBox tents and kitchen sets already stored in the country as contingency stocks whilst the Syria crisis continues to feed instability in the region are now being used to help some of the thousands of Iraqi families internally displaced.
‘Whilst preparing to deliver aid with a long-standing partner, we are also exploring several other options to respond to the needs of large numbers of displaced people in different parts of the region,’ said ShelterBox response team member Phil Duloy in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

‘People need help now’
‘People need help now and having prepositioned aid in the country already has allowed us to respond quickly to some of the shelter needs,’ added response team member Malcolm Shead. ‘A further 1,000 tents are being sent next week to help more people across multiple locations that are experiencing waves of displaced families who are currently sleeping in the open as the collective shelters are full.’
Thank you to all of our kind supporters for enabling us to carry out our disaster relief work and bring shelter and comfort to families made homeless by disaster and humanitarian crisis.

ShelterBox Responds To Civil Unrest In Iraq

RAQ KURDISTAN. AUGUST 2013. Syrian refugees gather at camps in Iraq Kurdistan (Hunter Tanous/ShelterBox).

RAQ KURDISTAN. AUGUST 2013. Syrian refugees gather at camps in Iraq Kurdistan (Hunter Tanous/ShelterBox).

 

ShelterBox is liaising with partner aid agencies in Iraq Kurdistan to see how the international disaster relief charity can help people who have been forced to flee their homes as civil unrest spreads across the country.
Violence broke out in the city of Mosul earlier this week, forcing 500,000 people from their homes. The majority have fled further north to Iraq Kurdistan’s main cities of Erbil and Duhok to seek safety and shelter.
ShelterBox has been working in the region over the past few years helping Syrian refugee families, providing them with shelter and other vital aid. The charity’s operations department is in contact with its partner humanitarian organisations in the area.
‘We have been looking into the situation since the civil unrest began a few days ago,’ said ShelterBox operations manager Alf Evans. ‘We are getting updates from in country partner aid agencies who we’ve worked with before that include the latest figures of those displaced and where they are as well as the latest developments of what is a very fluid situation. We are waiting for a clearer picture to see how and if we can assist the displaced families, as many are staying in schools and with friends and relatives.’
You can find out more about Kurdistan here.
Please donate here: DONATE

Two Children Point The Way To Peace In Syria

Delan playing his tambur at Qushtapa refugee camp, Irbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, October 2013.

Delan playing his tambur at Qushtapa refugee camp, Irbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, October 2013.

 

Below is a heartwarming story from ShelterBox UK

ShelterBox has helped set up an unlikely ‘friendship by post’ between the UK and a Syrian refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan. Toby Little from Sheffield, UK has become a global phenomenon with his ‘Writing to the World’ project – now ShelterBox has helped him to exchange letters with Delan Dari, a blind Kurdish Syrian musician.

Governments, diplomats and weapons inspectors wrangle over the Syrian conflict. Meanwhile two children over 2,000 miles apart have started a charming dialogue that points the way to peace.
5-year-old Toby Little and 11-year-old Delan Dari have been brought together by ShelterBox, the international disaster relief charity aiming to raise enough funds to help up to 5,000 more Syrian Refugee families before the harsh winter sets in.

Toby

Primary pupil Toby Little from Sheffield found an original way to fill his summer holidays – by sending handwritten letters to people in every country in the world. He’s written 321 letters to all 193 UN countries, and received 114 replies so far. But more than that, Toby has drawn the attention of broadcasters and journalists worldwide, as his ‘Writing to the World’ website became an international media marvel. His simple but engaging ‘global pen-pal’ project has been featured in TV interviews, online articles and newspapers on every continent.
Toby is also using his growing fame to raise funds for ShelterBox, via his own JustGiving site.
‘I am writing to anybody who can write back, but many people can’t even buy a stamp, they can’t even buy food!’ said Toby. ‘ShelterBox helps by sending special boxes to countries where people need them. A ShelterBox has lots of things in it to help a family, like a tent and tools, and things to make the water clean, and even toys for children. A whole box costs £590, and that’s my target.’
Toby writing his letters to the world, 2013.

Toby writing his letters to the world, 2013.

 

Toby so quickly exceeded this original target he now has five ShelterBoxes as his latest aim, and the money is still pouring in.
Delan

A child hero on a much smaller stage is Delan Dari. Delan’s family comes from Al-Hassakeh, one of Syria’s largest cities, but they were forced to flee the conflict and are now living under canvas in Qushtapa refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan. Blind from birth, Delan is a gifted musician, playing the tambur and composing his own music and lyrics. Amid the bleakness of the refugee camp he has become something of a celebrity, entertaining other families with impromptu evening concerts.
Back in Syria Delan faced discrimination. After he played Kurdish songs with patriotic themes at a festival, extremists stopped him from attending music school. His tambur is old and battered, and clearly a favoured possession. Delan’s father says he is very sensitive and if he doesn’t play and sing every day he becomes nervous.
‘I am very sad about what is going on in my country,’ said Delan. ‘I miss it.’
Among his touching self-composed lyrics are: ‘Don’t make me cry for the past because we have suffered a lot. Let us look to the future.’
Toby and Delan

With pride Delan holds up a hand written letter from Toby Little, the friend he has never met. It has been brought to Delan by ShelterBox in a departure from their usual aid deliveries.
Toby wrote, ‘Dear Delan, how are you? I am sorry you had to leave your home. Are you okay? Is it hard playing the tambur? What do you write your songs about?’
Delan with his father and the letter Toby wrote to him, Qushtapa refugee camp, Iraqi Kurdistan, October 2013.

Delan with his father and the letter Toby wrote to him, Qushtapa refugee camp, Iraqi Kurdistan, October 2013.

 

With the help of the ShelterBox team and a translator, Delan gave this reply: ‘Hi Toby, my warm greetings to you. I’m very happy to receive your letter which supported me a lot. I hope that I’m going to be an international artist. I wish you a nice future, and that we are going to be friends for years. Keep in touch.’
ShelterBox’s Head of Fundraising and Communicaitons Becky Maynard, who has just returned from a deployment to distribute school materials to refugee camps in Kurdistan, said, ‘It was a great privilege to meet Delan and his family, and to see their pride in the letter they received from Toby.’
‘The things we take for granted for our children – contact with the outside world, proper schooling, shelter from heat and cold – are often missing from these young refugee lives. ShelterBox is doing all it can to give these extraordinary and resilient families some hope of a brighter future.’
You can help Shelterbox Australia  help bring shelter and safety to Syrian families fleeing conflict, please donate and help us make a difference.

 

 

 

 

A Boy And His Tambur In Iraqi Kurdistan

Syrian refugee Delan playing his tambur with his father holding his microphone as he plays at Qushtapa refugee camp, Irbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, September 2013.

Syrian refugee Delan playing his tambur with his father holding his microphone as he plays at Qushtapa refugee camp, Irbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, September 2013.

ShelterBox staff member Michael Johns has been on deployment in Iraqi Kurdistan following the recent influx of Syrian refugees into the country. He shares his thoughts after visiting a school that accommodated a reported total of 1,100 men, women and children, set up at Qushtapa refugee camp in the region of Irbil:
‘We entered the school through the front gate to find a playground lined around the edges with ramshackle awnings rigged by the refugees to provide shelter from the sun – mostly blankets tied to the wall at the back and, in front, to water tanks or anything else they could find. With little to do families were lying or sitting on rugs and cushions under the awnings. Some others were in small groups, talking or just getting out of the sun, which in the week since we arrived has kept the daytime temperature in the forties. Visitors such as ourselves are something of a novelty, and we soon attracted attention from a number of curious people.
‘One of them was Kamal, a schoolteacher who spoke English. He wanted to know how soon the refugees were going to move into the nearby Qushtapa camp. We were able to reassure him that work on preparation of the camp had been proceeding rapidly, and that it was better to ensure the camp services were ready than to move the refugees in prematurely, making it harder to complete the remaining services.
Michael Johns (left) with SRT member Hunter Tanous (US) in Iraqi Kurdistan, September 2013.

Michael Johns (left) with SRT member Hunter Tanous (US) in Iraqi Kurdistan, September 2013.

 

‘Kamal acted as our interpreter and guide, taking us around the school. When we asked him to introduce us to some of the refugee families, he immediately took us to see the family of a young boy called Delan, meaning ‘hearts’ in Kurdish. The family comes from Al-Hassakeh but left when the situation in Syria became too bad. Delan is 11-years-old and has been blind since birth. He is a gifted musician, who plays the tambur and who, despite his blindness, composes his own music and lyrics. Delan performed one of his songs for us. We were spellbound by his talent, and the evocative melody. The tambur was old and battered, and clearly a favoured possession. Delan’s father told us that the talented boy is very sensitive and that the tambur is hugely important to him – if he doesn’t play it every day he becomes nervous. Delan had kept a firm hold on it during the journey but during the border crossing it had become damaged.

‘Immensely touching’

‘Delan had been discriminated against because he is a Kurd and had played his songs, many of which have patriotic themes, at a Kurdish festival. As a result, extremists within the government prevented him from going to his music school.
‘We recorded the rest of our conversation with Delan and his father. His story was immensely touching. He made an impromptu speech describing his feelings and his hopes for the future, with an eloquence and sensitivity that was profoundly moving. Speaking with Delan, hearing his story and his music was the most emotional event I have yet experienced during the deployment.’
You can listen to Delan play his tambour here: DELAN
You can donate the SYRIA REFUGEE APPEAL HERE
Syria Refugee Appeal image courtesy of Aram Karim/Metrography

Syria Refugee Appeal image courtesy of Aram Karim/Metrography

 

 

Voices From Iraqi Kurdistan: Syrian Refugees

Syrian refugees queuing for food at Krwigorsk camp, near Irbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, August 2013.

Syrian refugees queuing for food at Krwigorsk camp, near Irbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, August 2013.

 

As the world debates over military intervention in Syria following suspected deadly chemical attacks last week, ShelterBox has been in Iraqi Kurdistan responding to the influx of Syrian refugees into the country. 
ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member Hunter Tanous (US) recounts the upsetting stories of Qadria and Tariq, displaced Syrians who the SRT met at Krwigorsk refugee camp near the capital Irbil.
‘We met Qadria as we walked though the camp. She was cutting watermelon in the entrance to her tent, offering us a piece as she sat shaded from the 50-degree heat. She is a woman who has lost everything, fleeing Damascus when her house was looted and husband killed. The smile on her face was a strong juxtaposition to the harrowing story we would soon hear.
‘Sign of a survivor’
‘There were six in her family, but only two daughters were with her in the camps. She lost her husband in the war and had to leave her two sons behind. She fled with her daughters by bus, making the journey to the border with Kurdistan. They saw bombs fall around them; not all of the buses arrived. She thanked God for the camp, for us, for the buses at the border that took her to this shelter.
Qadria sitting in her United Nations shelter at Krwigorsk refugee camp, August 2013.

Qadria sitting in her United Nations shelter at Krwigorsk refugee camp, August 2013.

 

‘Stacked around her were piles of blankets, more than needed for this heat. This is a sign of a survivor, a resourceful and strong woman who must plan for the winter, almost unimaginable in these temperatures. She is one of 15,000 in the camp today, with thousands more coming.
‘Family reunited’
‘We then met Tariq, aged 46. He and his family did not have shelter; just a ripped blanket propped up by a stick and attached to the side of another family’s tent. Without this the intensely high heat would quickly take its toll. As his family shared one plate of rice and a piece of chicken for the five of them, Tariq spoke of how his wife and three children had been separated from him and his son while fleeing. He cried for seven days until just that morning, when he found his wife and three children in the camp. It was ‘like paradise’ when his family was reunited again.
 
‘Challenge of finding shelter’
‘Although Tariq’s joy at reuniting with his family was bursting across his face, he now had the even larger challenge of finding shelter to keep them out of the heat. He had tried to ask for a tent but as of yet had not received one. His daughters were too young and his son too sick to help. He spoke of his old age and his injured back making it difficult to manage the distances in the camp and the shoving at distribution points.  Tariq’s family’s welfare depends only on shelter. ‘The only thing I need is a tent, just a tent,’ he said as we prepared to leave.
‘Our partners from the Barzani Charity Foundation (BCF) took his name and said they would make sure he received a tent as soon as they were available. Tariq was not the only one without a tent we saw that day.’
Shelter, comfort and a future
Following needs assessments, ShelterBoxes are en route to Irbil to be distributed to people in desperate need, like Tariq who has nothing except his family and clothes on their backs. Thank you for your support that is bringing shelter, comfort and a future to thousands affected by the Syria conflict.
You can help families in desperate need of shelter by DONATING HERE. Thank you.

 

 

ShelterBox Responds to Syria Conflict in Kurdistan

Winterised ShelterBox tents set up at Domiz refugee camp, Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan, October 2012.

Winterised ShelterBox tents set up at Domiz refugee camp, Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan, October 2012.

 

A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) is arriving in Irbil, Iraqi Kurdistan today in response to the influx of Syrian refugees that have been pouring over the border since Thursday last week. 

Thousands of Syrian families crossed a new pontoon bridge over the Tigris river at Peshkhabour border point from Syria to Duhok province, Iraqi Kurdistan last weekend.

‘The factors allowing this sudden movement are not fully clear to us,’ said a spokesperson from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Adrian Edwards, in Geneva.

The reasons for the influx remain unclear but there has been a dramatic increase in fighting between Syrian Kurds and anti-government Islamist militants, according to various media reports.

UNHCR say that many of the newly arriving Syrians had travelled from Aleppo, Afrin, Hassake and Qamishli and had been waiting at the border crossing for up to three days.

‘We responded to the initial influx of Syrian refugees into Iraqi Kurdistan last year in October where we distributed 500 winterised ShelterBoxes at Domiz refugee camp in Duhok,’ said ShelterBox Operations Coordinator and SRT member Alice Jefferson (UK). ‘Since then, we have continued to monitor the situation in the country and this exodus of refugees has triggered us to respond once more.

‘Shelter, warmth and dignity’

‘We will be meeting with other humanitarian organisations, including UNHCR and Barzani Charity Foundation (BCF), which we worked with in our previous response here, to assess the need and discuss a possible shelter distribution plan with the aim of bringing shelter, warmth and dignity to these displaced families.’

Meanwhile in Lebanon there are winterised ShelterBoxes ready to be distributed if needed in preparation for the potential influx of refugees from Syria’s Damascus, owing to the recent media reports on chemical weapons earlier this week.

You can help us respond to the Syrian refugee crisis by DONATING HERE ….. thank you!