ShelterBox Condemns Kamounia Camp Bombing In Syria

Father and child in a makeshift ambulance in Kamounia

Father and child in a makeshift ambulance in Kamounia

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.’

 

 

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.

ShelterBox Participates in World Refugee Day 2013

World Refugee Day 2013 - Over 5 million Syrians forced to leave their homes - that's more than twice the population of Paris

World Refugee Day 2013

The civil war in Syria has forced millions of families from their homes, and in many cases from the country entirely. With the increased fighting and changing of control of particularly hostile towns and villages, more and more civilians are flooding across the border into neighbouring countries. This World Refugee Day, ShelterBox would like to draw attention to the families in need in the region and its response to the ongoing conflict.

Over one million Syrian people have registered as refugees since the beginning of the year, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). There are now over 1.6 million refugees, three quarters of them being women and children, seeking safety and shelter in foreign countries, placing unprecedented strain on communities, infrastructure and services in host countries.
ShelterBox has been helping Syrian families in need in Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon over the past 18 months. The vast majority of fleeing families arrive with little more than the clothes on their backs.
UNHCR has said if current trends persist, it can be expected that over three million Syrians would have left the country by the end of 2013. Thanks to donors worldwide, ShelterBox will continue to bring essential aid to Syrian families in need whilst needs remain.
If you would like to make a difference to a family made homeless by disaster and help alleviate their suffering please donate here.

 

ShelterBox Sends Much-Needed Aid into Syria

ShelterBox aid being loaded onto truck at its headquarters in Cornwall, UK, before heading to Syria via Turkey, April 2013.

ShelterBox aid being loaded onto truck at its headquarters in Cornwall, UK, before heading to Syria via Turkey, April 2013.

 

After 18 months helping on the borders of Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, ShelterBox has now found another way of getting aid into Syria itself via Turkey to help families displaced by the ongoing conflict. 

The ShelterBox Operations team has been studying the Hatay and Kilis regions between Turkey and northern Syria, and talking to humanitarian partners in the area. They believe they have now found a route that will get vital equipment across the borders into Syria to families in need.

According to the Humanitarian Information Unit an estimated 3.6 million people in Syria have been forced from their homes, but are still within the country’s borders. They are living in fear and desperately in need of basic aid.

United Nations envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said: ‘Yes, this situation appears to be totally hopeless, with no light to be seen at the end of a long tunnel Syria is lost in… Almost 50 percent of the Syrian population are being gravely affected by the conflict. I wonder if this is not a depressing record in the history of conflict.’

While the distribution of ShelterBoxes in Lebanon and Jordan continues, the charity has now made a strategic decision to send ‘non shelter items’ into Syria – including water purification equipment, water carriers, insect nets, solar lamps, kitchen sets and SchoolBoxes containing children’s packs and activities. There are fears that tents supplied in the familiar green ShelterBoxes may draw attention, making displaced families a target for snipers or looters. So difficult choices have had to be made about which lifesaving items can safely be distributed without endangering the recipients.

Aid leaves today 

The first truckload of aid leaves the charity’s headquarters in Cornwall, UK, today to begin its 3,000 mile journey and is expected to reach the Syrian border in around 10 days. If successful, this new aid ‘pipeline’ will see final distribution within Syria by implementing partner Hand in Hand for Syria.

Read more here: TURKEY

You can donate here: PLEASE DONATE

ShelterBox Continues to Pursue Aid Pipeline for Syrian Crisis

ShelterBox Response Team member Gerry De Vries working to distirbute aid in Lebanon in March 2013.

ShelterBox Response Team member Gerry De Vries working to distirbute aid in Lebanon in March 2013.

 

A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) has been assessing the feasibility of distributing more aid within Syria itself, after meeting with humanitarian agencies in Turkey. 

ShelterBox has been responding to the Syrian conflict since the beginning of 2012. What started out as a peaceful protest against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in the southern Province of Deraa has degenerated into a regional interethnic civil war. The growing violence, sectarian tensions and economic hardship is forcing more and more Syrian families from their homes in what has become a very complex and dynamic situation.

However there remains a desperate need for aid within Syria with the numbers of people fleeing conflict rising daily. According to the Humanitarian Information Unit there are an estimated 4 million people in need of aid within Syria itself including 3.6 million individuals who have been forced from their homes. During their visit to Turkey for discussions with humanitarian actors the SRT learned that nearly two and a half thousand people arrived at a camp near the Turkish border in one day alone.

‘Turkey has reached capacity, and refugee populations are beginning to have a destabilising influence in Lebanon’ said SRT member Sam Hewett (UK).

‘ShelterBox hopes to work in partnership with a Syrian non-political humanitarian organisation based in the UK that has close links with grassroots community organisations within Syria. This will hopefully allow us to continue our commitment to helping families in need.’

SRT Gerry de Vries (NL) instructs volunteers and refugees in Job Jannine, Bekaa, Valley, Lebanon

SRT Gerry de Vries (NL) instructs volunteers and refugees in Job Jannine, Bekaa, Valley, Lebanon

Multi-regional approach 

The complex nature of the Syrian conflict has served to make an effective humanitarian assistance program increasingly difficult but has also allowed ShelterBox to maximise the potential for a more fluid and collaborative operational response. Indeed it is through continued perseverance to finding a logistical pipeline to the most affected areas and engaging with local and International partners, which has meant that ShelterBox has been able to deliver aid into several locations across the affected region.

In Syria ShelterBox brought winter kits including blankets, groundsheets, water carriers, stoves, jerry cans, hats, gloves and scarfs to families living at Al-Salameh camp ,to protect them from the freezing winter conditions. In Iraq ShelterBox have delivered winterised ShelterBox disaster relief tents with other aid designed for cold conditions, bringing shelter and warmth to families living at Domiz refugee camp. ShelterBox was also a pioneer in distributing tents to Syrian refugees in Lebanon with the permission of the Lebanese Government. SRT’s were able to work with multiple implementing partners across various hubs to deliver much needed emergency shelter to cold vulnerable families in need.

In Jordan additional winterised ShelterBoxes have been distributed along the Syrian border providing a rest area for newly arriving Syrian refugee families.

The opportunity to deliver aid within Syria via a logistical route through Turkey represents the latest milestone in what has been a determined commitment to help as many families as possible despite constantly evolving and undoubtedly challenging conditions. It is thanks to the support of our donors that ShelterBox can continue to pursue operational and logistical solutions to this complex situation.

ShelterBox Update: Syria refugee crisis

Syrian refugee children at Domiz camp, Iraq Kurdistan, November 2012.

Syrian refugee children at Domiz camp, Iraq Kurdistan, November 2012.

 

Hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians are displaced from their homes due to unrest in the Syrian Arab Republic that has been mounting since March 2011. 

To date, over 411,000 people are estimated by the United Nations to have fled to neighbouring Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon, putting an increasing strain on the governments and host communities. Up to two million are displaced within Syria itself. Numbers are not going to ease.

ShelterBox has partnered with Solidarités International, a humanitarian organisation that provides aid and assistance to survivors of war or natural disaster, to bring ShelterBox aid to internally displaced families in Syria living along Turkey’s border.

A truck is en route to the affected area packed with ShelterBox kit including blankets, groundsheets, sets of hats, gloves and scarfs, water carriers, stoves and fuel bottles, as requested by Solidarités International. They stressed the urgency of the need for this winterised aid as families are becoming desperate with cold, wet winter conditions approaching.

‘Inadequate insulation’ 

‘Some people are living in basic, cold concrete structures, others in tents, that are both not winterised so therefore have inadequate insulation,’ said a representative from Solidarités International. ‘Many do not have proper cooking equipment either.’

Read more here: SYRIAN CRISIS

Update on Shelterbox’s Position in Sryia

A man carries his daughter as he walks in Bab Al-Salam refugee camp in Azaz August 29, 2012. Photograph taken by Reuters/Youssef Boudlal, courtesy the Thomson Reuters Foundation – AlertNet.

A man carries his daughter as he walks in Bab Al-Salam refugee camp in Azaz August 29, 2012. Photograph taken by Reuters/Youssef Boudlal, courtesy the Thomson Reuters Foundation – AlertNet.

What started out as a peaceful protest against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in the southern Province of Deraa in March 2011 has degenerated into a regional interethnic civil war. 

The growing violence, sectarian tensions and economic hardship has forced more and more Syrian families to flee not only their homes with around 1.2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs); but also their country with over 294,000 refugees in neighbouring countries, according to the latest report from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

With the escalating conflict now also hindering aid agencies going into Syria, how can ShelterBox distribute aid and help people in need?

With the restricted access to Syria, we have explored other avenues through the surrounding nations of Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, but each has its challenges and limitations.

There are ShelterBoxes prepositioned with the Jordanian Red Crescent in the capital Ammam, which were originally going to be used to set up transit camps along the border to accommodate the influx of Syrian families into Jordan. Existing transit camps have been criticised by the international community for inadequate standards resulting in the Jordanian Government becoming wary of setting up future transit camps.

‘The Jordanian Red Crescent is working on alternative solutions with the Government of Jordan to set up a transit camp,’ said ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Tom Lay.

‘Victimised’ 

‘Currently the security situation in Syria does not allow for a safe return by families and there is every chance they will become displaced again and even victimised for having received international assistance.

‘Therefore we will use the relationships between the Jordanian and Syrian Red Crescent societies, the latter being granted the most humanitarian access in Syria of any humanitarian organisations, to distribute our boxes on our behalf to families attempting to return to their homes in Syria once the situation allows for this.’

Safety of ShelterBox Response Teams (SRTs) and the practicalities of logistics are constraints for ShelterBox in the Arab region.

Read more here: SYRIA

Aussie SRT’s Story Featured in “Turkish News Weekly”

Reaching out to different communities within Australia’s diverse culture is an important part of raising awareness of the international work of ShelterBox. Last month, Sydney-based “Turkish News Weekly” published a story on our response to the earthquake that stuck Van in October last year, and the personal tale of Inverell SRT, Greg Moran’s involvement. Below is a copy of the story and a link to the original.

“On 23rd October 2011 a massive 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Southeast Turkey with it’s epicentre at the village of Tabanli, 20 kilometres north of Van city.  More than 2,000 buildings collapsed, 600 people were killed and thousands left homeless. An assessment team from international disaster relief organisation, ShelterBox was mobilised immediately and on the ground in Van in a matter of days. An urgent need for emergency shelter was immediately apparent, with many forced to sleep outside in freezing conditions. The Turkish Government made an official request for international assistance and the assessment team ordered in an initial 1,000 relief packages contained in the charity’s iconic green box.

As the name suggests, ShelterBox specialises in the provision of emergency shelter following natural and man-made disasters around the world. The cornerstone of the relief package is the Shelterbox Relief Tent, specially made by Scottish manufacturer, Vango. It can house up to 10 people, is fully waterproof and can withstand winds of up to 100 mph. Also in the box are thermal blankets, groundsheets, a stove, cooking utensils, water purification equipment and a children’s pack. Boxes can be packed at short notice to include other items needed dependent on conditions, (e.g. malaria resistant mosquito nets are sent to tropical areas). In response to the severe winter conditions in Turkey, sets of thermal hats, scarves and gloves were included and, for the first time, an insulating liner for the tent.

ShelterBox has 20 affiliate organisations around the world and has been active in Australia since 2003. Boxes are always accompanied by international Response Team members (or “SRTs”), volunteers whose job it is to ensure that aid gets to where it’s most needed.  Greg Moran, 58,  is one such Australian volunteer. A civil engineer from Inverell, NSW has been an SRT for 3 years and involved wth Shelterbox since 2005.  Below is an account of his work in and around the city of Van.

Aussie SRT, Greg Moran (far right)

“Shelterbox advised me regarding this deployment mid-morning on Wednesday 9th Nov and, amazingly, I was in Istanbul by 5.00am on Friday 11th. I met with the rest of team on day one. There were 3 Brits , 1 Canadian , 1 American and myself from Oz. The team dynamics were terrific and under the team leadership of Ian Neale , everyone got on well to achieve the desired outcome. By the end of the two-week period we had delivered almost 1400 ShelterBoxes.”

“This was going to be a different deployment for me, on a number of counts as it was approaching winter in Turkey and I had never experienced an earthquake or aftershocks before. Van was larger than I expected and the level of devastation was alarming, with building after building severely damaged, and all residents evacuated. At night, there were no lights in a large part of the city, a testament to the fact that so many people had moved out and gone to friends or relatives in other places. The damage in and around Van was not just physical. We found that the psychological effect on the residents was massive with so many people looking for tents or alternative accommodation, too afraid to enter their homes. What was most heart-wrenching was to see a line of men, stretching over a kilometre, waiting at the police compound in the falling snow, to have aid and tents delivered to them. They were cold and bedraggled, having waited for so long.

“There were people living and sleeping in cars and under tarps and their need was so great. We were assisted by the provincial government, The Red Crescent, Kitzaly, SES and the Turkish Army, whose professionalism shone through in their speed in creating a tent city from nothing in a matter of days. They were organised, prepared and magnificent in their operation. Both the army and the police assisted us greatly with road and air transport for the boxes and provided the team with a vehicle and security to move around with.”

“The team also worked in the mountainous hinterland to the north and the east of Van. These villagers had not received any aid whatsoever and were in great need. I was fortunate enough to travel to the villages of Golardi and Agarti to assist with ShelterBox distribution and to demonstrate how to erect the tents. The people of the villages were extremely grateful and hospitable and were moved that a team of people from the US, UK and Australia had come to assist them. The Imams and Muktas were also very grateful and ensured we had a meal and much tea before we were allowed to leave on the treacherous, narrow and snow covered road back to Van.”

“It was indeed a moving deployment, but one where much was achieved, not only with the distribution of 1400 tents to help people survive, but also in surmounting barriers and building bridges of friendship with the local people, letting them know the rest of the world does care about their plight.”

ShelterBox has responded to over 20 disasters this year, with Australian SRTs active in 10 of them. ShelterBox relies entirely on donations from the public and the support of Rotary International. You can help ShelterBox continue it’s important work around the world by visiting www.shelterboxaustralia.com.au and making a donation or phoning 1300 996 038

To see the original article go to Turkish News Weekly