HRH The Duchess of Cornwall takes a saw to a ShelterBox!

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.

Photograph by Emily Whitfield-Wicks
HRH opening the new ShelterBox 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.

Photograph by Emily Whitfield-Wicks
HRH with ShelterBox CEO, Chris Warham exit an AMG Relief Tent

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.’

Photograph by Emily Whitfield-Wicks
ShelterBox CEO, Chris Warham explains how ShelterKits can be used to build emergency shelters.

 

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

As Mosul is retaken, ShelterBox stands by to help families that survived the epic battle.

Mosul1As nine months of bloody battle end in the routing of Islamic State resistance, aid agencies, including ShelterBox are standing by ready to support families who were trapped in a destroyed city

The long wait is over. Military reports indicate that the final enclaves of IS resistance in Mosul are now in retreat, signalling the end of the largest and longest urban battle anywhere on the earth since World War 2.

It is three years almost to the day that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a Caliphate in the Iraqi city of Mosul, and since last October the UN estimates that 855,000 people have fled the city.

Emergency shelter experts, ShelterBox and its partner aid agencies, most based in the city of Erbil 50 miles from Mosul, have faced huge challenges in responding to one of the world’s most unpredictable sieges – not knowing when people would flee, in what numbers, and in which direction. Displacement camps in the area have long been over capacity, so ShelterBox has tailored much of its aid to be highly portable, meeting the needs of families on the move in this hostile environment.

There are reports that as many as 100,000 people remain in Mosul, no longer held under IS control as human shields, but undoubtedly traumatised from years of warfare, starvation, and living without power, healthcare or fresh water. Those civilians who managed to escape have been rescued, hungry and severely shell-shocked. How many remain huddling in bombed-out buildings in daytime temperatures of 50° daytime is unknown.

Near Mosul, ShelterBox has worked with partners ACTED to:

  • Support 8,000 households / 40,000 individuals since the start of the offensive in October 2016 (5,682 households have been sheltered, additional households received individual items).
  • We have around 3,000 kits standing by now to be distributed when needed.
  • Our aid offer is adjusted with the changing seasons. Iraq is subject to extremes of temperature, over 50° c in summer, and below freezing in winter.

 

A ShelterBox team is in Erbil now making plans to respond to whatever displacement is triggered by the military endgame. Operations Coordinator Sam Hewett says, Although we have prepared for this stage over many months, it is still unpredictable in size and scale. We don’t yet know exactly how many tens of thousands remain in Mosul, what their needs are, and whether they can be met by staying in Mosul. The Old City has suffered extensive damage, with little power or water infrastructure surviving. While relative peace is to be welcomed, we are also concerned about underlying tensions in the region and what they mean for longer-term stability.

ShelterBox and its partners will have to act quickly but cautiously in responding to this latest phase in a very long story.’  

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Meanwhile ShelterBox continues its five-year intervention in Syria, where the city of Raqqa is the focus of a final military offensive. ShelterBox is not able to act here directly with teams on the ground because of the volatile and dangerous security environment, working instead through implementing partners such as Hand in Hand for Syria and ReliefAid. Other partners cannot be named for security reasons.

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ShelterBox has been responding to this conflict since 2012, providing shelter and lifesaving items to households in neighbouring countries Jordan (2012, 2013), Iraq (2013-2017) and Lebanon (2012, 2013) and to families transiting through the Greek islands (2015). In Syria itself a total of 24,404 households have been supported. Now ShelterBox is gearing up for its biggest ever single aid push into Syria. Details of locations and routes cannot be given because ShelterBox must do all it can to protect its people and its partners.

In 2016 across Iraq and Syria ShelterBox aid reached an estimated 230,000 people.

You can help those displaced b y conflict by donating here: PLEASE DONATE

Tomorrow, 20th June is World Refugee Day – Dame Judi Dench endorses ShelterBox

Portrait of Dame Judi Dench

Dame Judi Dench. Image © Sarah Dunn http://www.sarahdunn.com

I support ShelterBox and the crucial work they do. Shelter and togetherness are stepping-stones to recovery.’ Dame Judi Dench on World Refugee Day

On the UN’s World Refugee Day (20th June) one of the world’s most famous Oscar-winners has given her backing to an agency that has helped hundreds of thousands of displaced people. Dame Judi Dench has generously endorsed the work of ShelterBox, saying that in a world on the run from disaster, ‘ShelterBox brings hope.’

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mother and son at a refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan © ShelterBox

Dame Judi Dench is celebrated from Hollywood to Broadway to the West End. She has followed the work of international disaster relief agency ShelterBox for several years. Tomorrow is World Refugee Day, held every year on 20 June, when the United Nations commemorates the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees.

ShelterBox is an international charity that provides emergency shelter to families who have lost their homes through conflict and natural disaster. The charity is currently responding to refugee crises in Cameroon, Niger, Chad, Syria and Iraq. A team will also shortly be heading to Uganda, which has the world’s largest refugee camp at Bidi Bidi, home to 800,000 people, many fleeing war in South Sudan. ShelterBox works hard to understand the need created by differing emergency situations, and has created a flexible range of aid that includes tools, tents and tarpaulins for families to make urgent shelter or repair buildings where there is no other possible provision. The aid can be used to create a temporary base in communities or refugee camps, but it is also light and portable for people moving from one place to the next.

Dame Judi has supported ShelterBox in the past, and donated a signed and framed theatre poster for sale in 2011. Now, with World Refugee day being promoted by the United Nations next week, she has again expressed her support.

Dame Judi says, ‘When disaster strikes and families are left with nothing, ShelterBox brings hope. Responding to each situation individually, ShelterBox gives tailor-made support – a place to live, equipment to cook with and to purify water, mosquito nets in the summer, scarves and blankets in the winter and SchoolBoxes to provide young people with the stability of the classroom.’

Right now there are 85 million people worldwide on the move, forced to flee their towns and villages by conflict, or natural disasters such as earthquakes, landslides, flooding and cyclones. Hardworking volunteers in the ShelterBox warehouse pack the boxes, which are then delivered to some of the most remote and dangerous places on earth by our dedicated ShelterBox Response Teams.’

Happy Syrian children in their ShelterBox tent, El Minie, Lebanon ©MIkeGreenslade/ShelterBox

Happy Syrian children in their ShelterBox tent, El Minie, Lebanon ©MikeGreenslade/ShelterBox

I support ShelterBox and the crucial work they do all over the world helping families who have lost everything. Shelter and togetherness are stepping-stones to recovery. If you are able, please give what you can via www.shelterboxaustralia.org.au  ‘‘

All donations above $2 are tax-deductible, please give generously.

 

ShelterBox sends team to Sri Lanka after worst monsoon flooding and mudslides since 2003 

 

Half a million people affected, around 85,000 made homeless. Disaster relief shelter experts, ShelterBox respond to Sri Lankan Government’s call for aid

International disaster relief charity, ShelterBox is sending a team to Sri Lanka today (1st June, 2017) to assess the need for the charity’s specialist aid – including sturdy weatherproof tents, emergency lighting, mosquito nets, and water filtration and carriers.

The team will be re-establishing partnerships with the Sri Lankan Government, colleague charities and local Rotary Clubs in response to the Sri Lankan government’s appeal to the United Nations for help with rescue and relief. The shelter experts responded to monsoon flooding and mudslides in Sri Lanka at this time last year, meaning they have developed the best possible experience in how to deal with flooding on the island and will be working with partners and the Sri Lanka government to share their expertise.

Sri Lankan residents walk through floodwaters in Kaduwela, Colombo. © Lakruwan Wanniarachchi: AFP

ShelterBox Operations Team Lead, James Luxton said, ‘This is déjà vu on a horrifying scale. I was with our team last year and I’m flying tomorrow again to meet up with our in-country contacts to carry out urgent assessments to help local families and communities.’

‘Last year’s response has given us solid experience of how best to level and drain sites so tents can be safely pitched. But the conditions are bad, monsoon rains are still falling, and many rivers are still overflowing. We know from monitoring our aid provision last year what will work best, and we’ll be offering that expertise to the Sri Lanka authorities, with whom we already have a good working relationship.’

In this latest monsoon tragedy the island’s emergency services are currently dealing with the rescue phase, and many people are housed in temporary shelters away from the flood zones. Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Centre (DMC) warns that the death toll may rise as reports come in from outlying areas. But when the floodwaters recede there could be a need for temporary shelter of the kind provided by ShelterBox.

SRT volunteer, Derek Locke (USA) instructs Sri Lanakan soldiers on erecting a ShelterBox tent

SRT volunteer, Derek Locke (USA) instructs Sri Lanakan soldiers on erecting a ShelterBox tent during our deployment in 2016

 

Sri Lanka is particularly vulnerable to this ‘moving earth’ mudslide phenomenon, having cleared land over decades to grow export crops such as tea and rubber. When the rains fall this deforested landscape can quickly become a torrent of mud with collapsing hillsides.

In 2016, ShelterBox provided tents and other aid to hundreds of families across six different camps. The work was complex because land had to be levelled and drained before it could be used safely for pitches, ensuring occupants wouldn’t be at risk from further storms and flooding. ShelterBox teams worked in partnership with the Rotary Club of Capital City in Colombo, who provided invaluable in-country local knowledge from a network of Rotarians across the island, and with the International Organisation for Migration and World Vision.

You can help by donating here: PLEASE DONATE

ShelterKits distributed in Mozambique – Australian volunteer assists in assessment and training

Image of shelterkits being loaded in a warehouse in Mozambique

After Cyclone Dineo – ShelterBox is in Africa helping to re-home thousands after Mozambique’s storm damage and flooding

Cyclone Dineo struck the southern African country of Mozambique on 15 February. Its torrential rain and damaging winds destroyed 20,000 homes and affected 130,000 people.International disaster relief agency ShelterBox has been working with the Red Cross to help communities rebuild.

image of a collapsed dwelling

The cyclone caused extensive damage over a widespread area

The South West Indian Ocean brews up a cyclone season every year, and in recent months there have been five tropical storms, with three intensifying into cyclones. Our photos show clear evidence of the destructive power of Dineo, and how ShelterBox and Red Cross response teams are taking aid to hard-hit areas such as Massinga and Morrumbene.

Dineo was the first tropical cyclone to hit the coast of Mozambique since 2008. 200 mm of rain fell in the province of Inhambane, at least seven people were killed, including a child crushed by a falling tree in Massinga. After the storm abated an estimated 130,000 people were in need of assistance.

South Australian Response team member, Megan Graham

Australian ShelterBox Response Team volunteer, Megan Graham was part of the second team in country, helping to assess needs and arrange customs clearance. Megan said,

The first team had performed a needs assessment in the area and determined that ShelterBox aid in the form of Shelter Kits was appropriate.  1,000 Shelter Kits and 2,000 mosquito nets were already identified to be sent to Mozambique.  My month in Mozambique was split between the capital, Maputo and Inhambane city.  The affected area was vast and the vulnerable families very spread out, we spent some time with our partners Red Cross to visit some of the potential beneficiaries and see the damage caused by Cyclone Dineo.  To identify the vulnerable families to receive the 1,000 Shelter Kits we needed to utilise the services of the local Red Cross Volunteers, we spent some days training them on the necessary data collection to ensure the most vulnerable were to receive the aid.  Whilst I was in the Inhambane area with a team working on the beneficiary collection a separate team was based in Maputo working on expediting Tax Exemption so that the aid could be flown in to the country.”

ShelterKits distribution in the filed

ShelterKits and other essential items were distributed with the help of the Red Cross

The aid that fitted the needs of the population best was ShelterKits containing materials to rebuild or repair basic dwellings. Women are seen carrying the kits on their heads, often with infants in arms and toddlers at their feet.

Response team member, Steven Tonkinson (USA) says,‘The people we have been distributing to are clearly among the most vulnerable in their communities. We have seen elderly men and women, people with severe physical disabilities, mothers with infants and orphaned children. It’s reassuring to know that our aid is going to those who need it most.’ 

Demonstrations of how to use the kit contents – tarpaulins, tools and fixings – were given to households. After consulting the local community, ShelterBox also included machetes, a widely used tool in Mozambique, and mosquito nets to avoid the scourge of malaria. The Machetes were transported safely to Mozambique in our familiar green boxes.

This careful selection of aid will mean people can rebuild their lives and livelihoods, and protect themselves from the weather.

You can help families affected by disasters by donating here: PLEASE DONATE

 

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 

Colombia landslides – ShelterBox has aid in-country and a team in neighbouring Peru

 

As the flood-stricken Colombian city of Mocoa counts its dead and searches for hundreds missing after frightening mudslides, UK disaster relief charity ShelterBox has been invited by the Red Cross to help in the aftermath of this latest South American flood disaster

A plaintive message was posted on ShelterBox’s Facebook site today. It was from Gloria Cajavilca (right), Secretary of the Rotary Club of Bogota DC in Colombia. She wrote, ‘I’d like to know how we can bring ShelterBox to Mocoa, which yesterday suffered a major collapse in which there are many victims.’  

Gloria is referring to torrential rains that brought a sudden onslaught of water, mud, trees and rocks to the city of Mocoa in South West Colombia on Friday night and Saturday morning. Several rivers overflowed, and although warnings were sounded many people failed to hear them, or have time to get out of danger. Colombia’s director of the National Disaster Risk Management Unit told news agencies that a third of the region’s expected monthly rain fell during the night.

With search and rescue underway, there is no certainty yet on the number of casualties in this city of 350,000 people, but early estimates range from 200 to 400. 1,100 soldiers and police are involved in the relief effort. Video footage from the city shows residents crying over a list of missing children, along with their ages, pinned to a family welfare centre.

International disaster relief agency ShelterBox is in touch with its Colombia contacts, and has shelter aid already stored in the country. It also has a team currently in neighbouring Peru, monitoring shelter need after flooding since 13 March killed an estimated 78, demolished over 100,000 homes, washed out bridges, and affected more than 640,000 people along Peru’s northern coastal strip.

ShelterBox Operations Co-ordinator Ayeasia Macintyre says, We are still waiting on data to be released from Mocoa about how many people have been displaced, but for the time being the priority has to be on search and rescue.’ 

We have approached our in-country contacts and colleague agencies from previous responses in Colombia to see if they can provide us with any information on the most urgent needs, and any  emerging shelter strategy for people made homeless following this tragedy. The Red Cross has already asked ShelterBox for assistance, so we are looking to mobilise a team.’

As is often the case in South American natural disasters, one of our main lines of contact is with Rotarians who can provide eyewitness information and local knowledge. One of our Peru response team will also meet a Colombian associate in Lima this evening to get an update.’

As well as its current assessment role in Peru, ShelterBox also spent many months last year providing equipment and rebuilding kits to people in the coastal communities of neighbouring Ecuador affected by the 7.8 earthquake that struck Ecuador almost a year ago. From 2009 through to 2011 ShelterBox responded to flooding in Colombia, earning praise from the country’s President.

Ayeasia Macintyre adds, We are well placed to offer emergency shelter help, but know that Colombian officials are understandably concentrating on a massive relief operation and search for survivors at present.’

To help those affected by disaster around the globe PLEASE DONATE