Video: International Migrants Day

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At this time of year, our thoughts turn to family and home, but for many this just isn’t possible.

At ShelterBox, we don’t just help people whose homes have been damaged or lost in natural disasters, but those who have had to leave their homes due to conflict.

While many people leave their homes to escape the threat of terror and violence, such as those fleeing from Boko Haram in Nigeria or Islamic State in the Middle East, the way to safety is often just as perilous.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the number of people fleeing war and violence in 2015 is set break a record high, with almost a million people having crossed the Mediterranean Sea to escape conflict in Syria and elsewhere.

While we may not be able to help these families return to their homes and communities as we can after a flood or earthquake strikes, we can make sure that people who are migrating to safer parts of the world have some respite along the way.

This video shows our recent work in Greece, providing emergency shelter for people who had made the journey across the sea to the island of Lesbos. Many families only stayed in our tents for a few nights, but it meant that they were able to rest somewhere safe, warm and dry, before continuing their journey on to other parts of Europe.

Your support helps us to keep helping families in need, wherever they are in the world.

ShelterBox Tents Await Iraqi Families Fleeing Sinjar Mountain

IRAQI KURDISTAN. SEPTEMBER 2013. ShelterBox has previously assisted families in Iraqi Kurdistan. (Simon Clarke/ShelterBox)

IRAQI KURDISTAN. SEPTEMBER 2013. ShelterBox has previously assisted families in Iraqi Kurdistan. (Simon Clarke/ShelterBox)

As the United Nations (UN) declares a ‘Level 3 Emergency’ for Iraq, ShelterBox partners with both the UN and the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) to attempt to deliver vital shelter to families previously stranded on Sinjar Mountain. 

Thousands of people, mostly religious minorities, were left stranded atop Sinjar Mountain after being driven from their homes by the advance of Islamic State militants in the region. The rapid advance of militant fighters has thrown Iraq into crisis and has now led to overseas involvement in the form of aid interventions. The UN estimates that 1.2 million Iraqis have now been internally displaced by the crisis. ShelterBox has a wealth of experience in humanitarian responses in the region having been responding to the Syria crisis since early 2012.

The UN has issued a statement explaining ‘Given the scale and complexity of the current humanitarian catastrophe, this measure [declaring a Level 3 Emergency] will facilitate mobilization of additional resources in goods, funds and assets to ensure a more effective response to the humanitarian needs of populations affected by forced displacements.’

The severity of this crisis is not to be overlooked, today’s UN statement goes on to clarify that a Level 3 Emergency ‘represents the highest level of humanitarian crisis’.

In a week that has seen both the UK and US completing aid drops of food and water into the region, the latest announcement from the UN comes amidst growing concerns for what lies ahead for the families stranded atop Sinjar Mountain. Concern is also mounting for those families who have, in recent nights, fled the mountain under the cover of darkness and are now in search of shelter.

ShelterBox currently has prepositioned stock in Iraq and will be working with UNHCR and ACTED to move 500 UN specification tents to Duhok, near the border with Syria, to be used to establish a camp to provide shelter for internally displaced people (IDP’s) such as those fleeing Sinjar Mountain.

Although daytime temperatures in the region are currently high the ShelterBox Operations team are currently making provisions to supplement the current stock of shelter in Iraq with winterisation kits. This is more of a precautionary measure should the need for shelter sadly extend into the colder winter months.

You can help by donating here: PLEASE DONATE

Renewing Efforts To Help Syrian Families 3 Years On

LEBANON. October 2013. Syrian refugee families setting up tents distributed by one of ShelterBox's partners. (ShelterBox)

LEBANON. October 2013. Syrian refugee families setting up tents distributed by one of ShelterBox’s partners. (ShelterBox)

 

‘Our situation was so bad back home in Syria. We couldn’t leave our houses and we were worried about our children’s safety. You could hear gunfire all night every night, we couldn’t sleep and we were all terrified. We decided to escape…’
These are the words of Anna Al Nasar. But these are sadly words shared by millions of Syrians today. This week marks three years since civil war in Syria sparked the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis.
Anna is 42-years-old and she was forced from her home due to ongoing violence in her hometown in Syria. She now lives in a ShelterBox tent in northern Lebanon on a small informal tented settlement with her seven young children and husband.  They have been there for one year surviving on the bare minimum.
‘My hope is only for my children to be safe and for the fighting to stop so we can return home,’ Anna continued. ‘As long as the situation remains like this, we can’t go back.’
There is no sign of the Syria crisis easing. In the last year, the number of people who have fled starvation, fear and death has more than trebled: United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) statistics show that on 9 March 2013 there were 834,567 refugees. Six days ago there were 2,544,477. There are predictions this will double by the end of this year.
‘Great tragedy of this century’
‘Syria has become the great tragedy of this century – a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history,’ said Antonio Gutteres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), last September.
AKAAR/LEBANON. November 2013. 42-year-old Anna Al Naser with her children in front of their ShelterBox tent. She said, 'My hope is only for my children to be safe and we go back to our home country... and that the shelling stops.' (Rebecca Novell/ShelterBox)

AKAAR/LEBANON. November 2013. 42-year-old Anna Al Naser with her children in front of their ShelterBox tent. She said, ‘My hope is only for my children to be safe and we go back to our home country… and that the shelling stops.’ (Rebecca Novell/ShelterBox)

 

‘I don’t think there are reasons to be optimistic,’ he said of the possibility of resolving the Syrian war. ‘We see the war going on and on and on… with tragic humanitarian consequences with suffering of Syrian people that is unimaginable…’
ShelterBox helps thousands
ShelterBox has worked tirelessly to get aid to thousands of refugees, like Anna, and displaced families in the region. With a long term presence in four countries, the charity is now focusing on two fronts – in neighbouring Lebanon, and via a route into Syria itself. Partnership and planning have been key.
‘The Syrian crisis is complex and bloody with no end in sight,’ said ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member Toby Ash who was recently at a secret location near war-torn Syria. ‘But ShelterBox is able to make a real difference on the ground. We have developed strong partnerships with those able to operate on our behalf in the country, and through careful distribution management and the increasing use of technology, we are able to effectively identify and reach the most desperate.’
The team was on the ground last week preparing for a shipment of 400 tents and 2,400 blankets that was arriving imminently from the UK. They met with trusted and proven local and international partners who distribute aid inside Syria itself, including ShelterBox aid.
 
ShelterBox in Lebanon
 
As well as this secret and hopefully secure route into Syria, ShelterBox is also now concentrating on Lebanon, where an estimated one in four people is a refugee. A new Response Team arrived in Beirut last week to oversee distribution of tents, blankets and solar lamps.
Hundreds of the tents are adapted so stoves can be used inside them, making them ideal for the colder areas in the Bekaa Valley. Distribution is via a long-established network of implementing partners, and is being managed remotely due to the unpredictable nature of aid work in Lebanon.
BEKAA VALLEY, LEBANON. November 2013. Of the current Syrian refugees, more than 1.3 million are under the age of 18. Syria’s children, both refugees and those internally displaced, desperately need access to basic necessities like shelter as well as education. (Rebecca Novell/ShelterBox)

BEKAA VALLEY, LEBANON. November 2013. Of the current Syrian refugees, more than 1.3 million are under the age of 18. Syria’s children, both refugees and those internally displaced, desperately need access to basic necessities like shelter as well as education. (Rebecca Novell/ShelterBox)

 

‘With the daily increase of the number of refugees, a need to find shelter becomes crucial,’ said Ahmad AlAyyoubi, project manager at Lebanese Refugee Council, one of ShelterBox’s partners.
‘Tents have been a blessing’ 
‘Fleeing the turmoil in Syria, the refugees seek the closest areas near the Lebanese borders. They are left stranded with no money, no belongings and no place to go. Having no money prevents them from renting any houses; thus they seek informal tented settlements. Since those tents are already full because of the constant increase of the refugee numbers, ShelterBox tents have been a blessing. Not only have the tents provided a shelter for the refugees, they proved to stand the weather on the outskirts of the Lebanese rural areas.
‘It is a great relief to see that, with the help of ShelterBox, we are able to bring comfort and ease to some of the refugees’ suffering by offering shelter, which at the end of the day is one of life’s basic necessities.’
You can help
Thanks to everyone who has supported ShelterBox’s Syria Refugee Appeal. Three years on many thousands still need our help today more than ever. Please help Syrian families and donate today or organise your own Socks 4 Syria day
Our 'Odd Sox' campaign has been remodelled as 'Socks 4 Syria

Click the banner to find out more about ‘Socks 4 Syria’

 

 

 

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!

 

ShelterBox Prepares For Winter in Lebanon

From left to right: ShelterBox volunteers Carol Raines, Alec Parker and Ann Carter who assisted with the Lebanon box pack at ShelterBox headquarters, UK, August 2013.

From left to right: ShelterBox volunteers Carol Raines, Alec Parker and Ann Carter who assisted with the Lebanon box pack at ShelterBox headquarters, UK, August 2013.

 

The warehouse at ShelterBox headquarters in Cornwall, UK was busy with volunteers this week as they packed winterised boxes to be sent to help Syrian refugee families in Lebanon to prepare for the approaching winter months. 

With the Syrian refugee population almost at two million in Syria’s neighbouring countries and no signs of the figure easing, communities, infrastructure and services in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon are being put under unprecedented strain.

The smallest host country, Lebanon, is currently hosting the most refugees at 672,942, according to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), the vast majority being dependent on aid.

‘Winter can bring snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures,’ said ShelterBox Logistics Manager Shane Revill. ‘We want to have winterised aid in Lebanon in preparation for these conditions to bring Syrian refugees protection, shelter and warmth as quickly as we can.

‘Insulate’ 

‘Each box contains the disaster relief tent with a thermal liner that lies within the inner and outer flysheets to insulate the tent more, thermal groundsheets and blankets, solar lamps and kitchen sets.’

79-year-old Alec Parker was one of the volunteers assisting with the pack. He has been dedicating his time to ShelterBox for five years:

‘It’s such a worthy cause and gives me the opportunity to meet up with like-minded people.’

 

Ann and Carol packing a winterised ShelterBox heading for Lebanon in the ShelterBox warehouse, UK, August 2013.

Ann and Carol packing a winterised ShelterBox heading for Lebanon in the ShelterBox warehouse, UK, August 2013.

 

‘Fills the need’ 

Retired teacher Carol Raines is 67 and joined ShelterBox as a warehouse volunteer in 2005 following the Asia tsunami. She was placing the kitchen sets and blankets in each box down the packing line and said: ‘I think ShelterBox is brilliant as no one else does what it does; it stops the gap and fills the need.’

ShelterBox’s network of local implementing partners in Lebanon will carry out discrete micro distributions to Syrian families in need once the aid is released through customs. ShelterBox also continues to assist communities displaced within Syria itself.

A big thank you to our donors and supporters around the world who make our work possible.

You can help by DONATING HERE

 

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 Aid Arrives in Syria For Displaced

Syrian refugees in Lebanon, May 2013.

Syrian refugees in Lebanon, May 2013.

 

As civil war carries on in Syria and the dynamic security situation continues to deteriorate in the surrounding region, ShelterBox has partnered with Hand in Hand for Syria (HIHS) to get vital humanitarian aid to people internally displaced inside Syria.
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), some 6.8 million people have been forced from their homes in the war-torn country having been exposed to violence and unremitting fighting. Many now remain within the borders with no home to go to and no possessions.
It’s extremely difficult for most humanitarian organisations to carry out their work and help people in Syria due to its dangerous environment. However ShelterBox teamed up with HIHS, one of the few charities that has a presence within Syria, to deliver essential aid to Syrians desperately in need.
‘HIHS operates through a distribution network of local aid workers to reach communities across Syria,’ said Faddy Sahloul, Chairman and Founder of HIHS in the UK.
The ShelterBox aid items to be distributed to internally displaced people in Syria.

The ShelterBox aid items to be distributed to internally displaced people in Syria.

 

‘In practice this means when we receive aid into our warehouses in Syria, we pack it down accordingly to our assessments on which areas are in need, and liaise with the various teams around the country to come and collect and then distribute it.
 
‘Distribution discretely’
‘Obviously this is a very simplified description, in practice the security situation makes it extremely complex because so many different variables need to be taken into consideration such as planning routes to avoid active conflict zones, doing the distribution discretely so as not to draw attention to the aid, and making sure the civilian shelters remain unidentifiable so that they do not become potential targets.’
The ShelterBox aid, which includes water carriers and filters, insect nets, solar lamps, kitchen sets and children’s activity packs, is now in HIHS’s warehouse in Syria and distributions should begin this week.
‘Survival’
‘It’s taken a lot of research to find this very rare route to get aid into Syria itself,’ added Sam Hewett, ShelterBox Operations Coordinator. ‘With how hard it is for charities to access humanitarian space there and move around, I believe ShelterBox is one of the few that is helping Syrian families by bringing them non-food items, fundamental to their comfort and survival.’
Meanwhile ShelterBoxes continue to be distributed by a network of implementing partners in Lebanon to Syrian refugees. Please continue to help us help others around the world by donating today.

 

 

Syria ‘Fastest Evolving Internal Displacement Crisis’

Photo courtesy of Relief International. Internally displaced Syrian families living at Al-Salameh camp in Syria in tents provided for them by the camp management authorities, December 2012.

Photo courtesy of Relief International. Internally displaced Syrian families living at Al-Salameh camp in Syria in tents provided for them by the camp management authorities, December 2012.

 

A recent report shows that Syria is number one in the global list of countries where people were internally displaced last year due to armed conflict and violence in the region. 

According to the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring (IDMC) report published earlier this week, 2.4 million people were newly displaced within Syria in 2012, taking the total of internally displaced persons (IDPs) around the world to 28.8 million, a record high.

The IDMC says until the conflict in Syria is resolved, displacement will continue to grow and estimates that a further 800,000 Syrians have been displaced so far this year, leaving the current figure at 3.8 million.

‘The crisis is in its third year and the escalation has gone beyond a tipping point,’ said IDMC spokeswoman Clare Spurrell. ‘The internally displaced are completely reliant on others, but host communities are themselves suffering from a lack of food, and diseases are breaking out… It’s the fastest evolving internal displacement crisis at the moment in the world.’

Only 430,000 Syrian IDPs have received humanitarian assistance from the United Nations Refugee agency (UNHCR) as the conflict has escalated making it hard for humanitarians to help due to the dynamic security situation.

Bomb attack 

Whilst a truckload of ShelterBox aid is en route to Syria, a ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) is currently in the region exploring possible collaborative avenues of delivering the aid to IDPs within Syria. They are experiencing first-hand some of the security challenges.

‘Within the first few days of arriving in the region there was a Syrian air force cluster bomb attack about 500 metres from an IDP camp and 15 miles from our hotel,’ said SRT member Max Hogg (UK).

Another incident happened further east where Syrians who were prevented from exiting the country exchanged fire with border guards, raising concerns that the conflict could spill over into neighbouring countries.

Help families

‘Despite these attacks, we are going to continue to look for ways of getting the ShelterBox aid to help families in need in Syria by talking to various other non-governmental organisations working in the area.’

The ShelterBox aid sent includes 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.

It is thanks to the support of our donors that ShelterBox can continue to pursue operational and logistical solutions to this complex situation.

ShelterBox Sends Tents for Pakistan Quake Survivors

Photo coutersy of Balochistan Rural Support Programme (BRSP). Quake survivors walking amongst remains of their home, Mashail, Pakistan, April 2013.

Photo coutersy of Balochistan Rural Support Programme (BRSP). Quake survivors walking amongst remains of their home, Mashail, Pakistan, April 2013.

ShelterBox tents are en route to help displaced families in Mashkail, an area in Balochistan Province in south-western Pakistan that has been the most affected by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake, which hit inside southern Iran near the Pakistan border on 16 April. 

The violent tremors flattened much of Mashkail and the surrounding region including houses and shops. Media reports are saying national relief efforts have been delayed due to the isolation of the area.

‘We have ShelterBox aid prepositioned in Islamabad with the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP), who we have worked with before in our responses to previous disasters in Pakistan,’ said ShelterBox operations coordinator Dave Ray (UK). ‘The tents arrived in Quetta today and are now being trucked to Mashkail to arrive tomorrow.

‘Mashkail is a hard-to-reach area so having aid stored in-country and an established partnership with NRSP has enabled us to send emergency shelter to those families who have been left with nothing as quickly as possible.’

Photo coutersy of Balochistan Rural Support Programme (BRSP). Quake survivors helping clear up rubble, Mashail, Pakistan, April 2013.

Photo coutersy of Balochistan Rural Support Programme (BRSP). Quake survivors helping clear up rubble, Mashail, Pakistan, April 2013.

Meanwhile, initial rapid needs assessments have been made by Balochistan Rural Support Programme (BRSP) showing that almost two thirds of the houses in Mashkail have completely collapsed, leaving over 2,500 households in need of shelter. Further detailed needs assessments are currently underway.

BRSP will be ShelterBox’s implementing partner when the tents arrive and will deliver them to those families in most need rapidly and effectively.

‘The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is the leading organisation among UN agencies for the provision of tents in emergencies,’ said Fateh Shah Arif, BRSP’s Emergency Response Manager. ‘But their warehouse in Quetta burnt down a few months ago leaving them with no shelters here, therefore the provision of tents is an immediate need for those affected by the disaster.’

You can make a donation here: PLEASE DONATE

ShelterBox Steps up Efforts for Syrian Refugees

Bassam Shebab, his wife and family with their ShelterBox tent, Lebanon, March 2013. ©MikeGreenslade/ShelterBox

Bassam Shebab, his wife and family with their ShelterBox tent, Lebanon, March 2013. ©MikeGreenslade/ShelterBox

Bassam Shebab and his family fled the embattled Syrian city of Homs a month ago. Bassam was smuggled over the border in the north of Lebanon whilst his family crossed at the Bekaa Valley. He, along with his wife and five young children, have been sharing a makeshift shelter with his brother, sister-in-law and their two children, waiting for the fighting to stop to enable them to return home. 

This family is not the only one waiting for the conflict to end in their home country. One million is the number of people who no longer sleep under their own roofs, wondering when they can return home, that is, if their home is still standing when that time comes.

One million is the number of Syrians that have fled to countries like Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to escape from almost two years of violence and civil war at home, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Figures show that half of the refugees are children, most of them aged 11 or under.

ShelterBox Response Teams (SRTs) are at work now in Syria’s neighbouring countries Lebanon and Jordan, and ShelterBox is considering a return to Iraq Kurdistan, and will look at further opportunities to deliver aid into Syria itself.

In Lebanon, the smallest of Syria’s surrounding countries, the influx of refugees has swollen the population by ten per cent. SRTs are now delivering winterised ShelterBoxes in discrete micro distributions with various implementing partners to Syrian refugee families, like Bassam Shebab’s.

‘Never feel like home’

‘We will be so much more comfortable in the tent,’ said Bassam, relieved to be out of such cramped conditions. ‘It will never feel like home but we thank ShelterBox for helping us.’

Read more here: LEBANON

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