Humanitarian Aid Needed by Every Third Syrian, Quarter of Population Forced to Leave Homes; PIN Has Helped 260,000Published: Jul 18, 2013 Reading time: 9 minutes
Aleppo, Idlib (15th July 2013) – The humanitarian situation in Syria has been worsening rapidly. During the two-year lasting conflict between the opposition and Bashar al-Assad’s regime almost 100,000 people have been killed. Nearly 7 million Syrians are in need of immediate relief, every fifth Syrian has become internally displaced and 1.7 million people have become refugees. People lack essential food items, shelter or medicines; educational and health systems have collapsed in a principal part. “People in Need has helped more than 260,000 Syrian, monthly it provides aid to 30, 000 Syrians, on average. Another half a million people indirectly benefit from waste removal and rehabilitation of electrical network infrastructure,” says Jitka Škovránková, PIN Desk Officer for Syria.
Apart from distribution of food, bread, small cash grants, baby food and nutritional supplements for mothers, the PIN team is organizing waste collection to clean the streets from piles of waste, supporting education at schools, it has founded an information and consulting centre for refugees and it is also reconstructing electrical network damaged during the fights.
People in Need (PIN) focuses its help primarily on the Idlib and Aleppo Governorates, a part of aid was directed to Homs, Latakya and Hama regions where the situation is critical due to fights and constant bombardment. According to a detailed needs and situation assessment, carried out in May 2013 in seven provinces in the north of Syria, 40% of people in the Idlib Governorate are internally displaced and 40% of all buildings have been destroyed. In this area alone, 1.9 million people are in need of emergency food and health relief.
PIN’s assistance in numbers:
260,000 directly supported Syrians
100,000 people received daily ration of bread for at least one month
50,000 people received an emergency food packet for one month
20,000 children were given kits with nappies and baby formula
55,000 people got material assistance
500 families obtained financial grants
4,500 families received food allowance along with a packet of food supplies
2,000 children were offered temporary education arranged by PIN
5 field hospitals were provided with equipment
25 clinics were provided with medicines
12,500 pregnant women were given nutritional supplements
In Aleppo, where PIN has been helping since last year’s autumn, 1.7 million people need emergency food relief, 2.5 million people of the province are surviving in makeshift shelters and mere 6% of the local children attend school. Continuing fighting and cut-off supply roads cause rapid increase in prices and devaluation of the local currency. For example, prices of bread in cities have soared by 1,000 % in comparison with the prices before the conflict, the prices of other food items have increased usually by 200 – 500 %. Syrian pound has dropped by one third of its value to dollar in the last month.
Aid can be sent directly to the SOS Syria charity account
Account Number: 92329232 / 0300 CZK
Account Name: CLOVEK V TISNI, O.P.S.
IBAN: CZ17 0300 0000 0000 9232 9232
BIC (SWIFT): CEKOCZPP
Educational system in Aleppo collapsed due to the long-term conflict. Many schools have been damaged by bombardment and others are occupied by armed groups or IDPs. At the beginning of 2013, several volunteers decided to restore education in areas where the risk of injury during bombings is lower. Temporary schooling was established in basements of buildings and mosques. PIN is supporting ten such places. “We provided children with schoolbags, textbooks and other school supplies. Twice a week children receive snacks and teachers get a small cash grant for ensuring basic needs for themselves and their families. We provide schools with fuel for generators to use it for lighting as the schooling mostly takes place in basements or at the rear end of mosques due to safety reasons,” explains Jitka Škovránková while adding that the funds from the SOS Syria collection enabled to repair the windows, doors and remove the ruins in two schools.
Not surprisingly, the children are enjoying the reopened schools. “I stopped going to school seven months ago because of the war. I was just sitting at home, feared bombing and did nothing. My parents were afraid of letting me go out to play with my friends,” says twelve-years-old Nour from al-Arabi school and adds that due to lack of electricity there was not much to do at home. “Thanks to this school, I could get back to my desk. We got a schoolbag that I like because I don’t have to carry my books in a plastic bag. Moreover, twice a week, we get warm milk and biscuits,” Nour adds.
Leishmaniasis outbreak has affected 100,000
The PIN team based in Aleppo is also striving to solve the problem of the failed waste management in this biggest Syrian city. Tons of waste in the streets keep endangering peoples’ health every day and poor sanitary conditions caused an outbreak of leishmaniasis. More than 100,000 people are infected, among them mainly children. The disease, transmitted by a kind of sand fly, is very difficult to treat as the people do not have money for the medicine and what is worse, the children often make extra money by rummaging through the waste where the risk of infection is the highest. “The PIN waste collection teams have been removing tons of waste and taking it to the dump for several months now. Furthermore, there are vans regularly driving the streets while spraying them and the waste with chemicals to minimize the spread of infection,” explains Jitka Škovránková and says that the waste has been already removed from five city districts, and thus the waste collection team has indirectly helped half a million people.
“My son, Zaher, has been suffering from leishmaniasis for ten months now and only recently he has got a medicine that can cure the disease. Clearing the streets from waste is very important so that the disease won’t spread further,” says Mahmood Haj Ali.
The PIN team in Aleppo is helping tens of thousands of families by repairing the electrical network damaged during fights. “With our support, fifteen electricians are repairing cables, substations and transformers so that the city district of more than 200,000 people could have the electricity supply restored at least for a couple of hours every day,” Jitka Škovránková says. PIN has also lent a helping hand to a small clinic in al-Fardous district with 220,000 inhabitants; it is the only facility where people can find medical attention. A clinic, catering for 100 – 150 patients daily, has received medicines, fuel for generators so that the facility could produce energy for lighting, sterilization and cooling of medicines.
Bread for 100,000
PIN’s Syrian mission also focuses on providing the socially weakest families with essential food items. PIN supplies bakeries in Aleppo, Hazzan and Sarmada with flour and fuel for generators that power ovens. Bread is then distributed to the previously selected most vulnerable families. Subsequently, those families collect the bread in distribution centres, which were established by the organization. “Every day, 2,200 of the most vulnerable families come for their daily ration of bread. Moreover, the bakers are now employed, otherwise, without ingredients and fuel they would have to close down the business,” Jitka Škovránková says.
Emergency food supplies are also directed to the youngest. Nearly half of the Syrian mothers looking after small babies do not breastfeed sufficiently, and at the same time there is no baby formula available. For that reason, PIN is distributing baby formula along with drinking water for its preparation; the baby kit also includes nappies that are very difficult to obtain as well. “Before the conflict, my brother had been helping me, but after the fighting started he emigrated so now we are absolutely without any means and we are able to survive only thanks to humanitarian aid,” says Fattima Qassab, a fifty-six-year-old woman who provides for two daughters of hers, who are also widows, three grandchildren and an ill mother.
It is very difficult for Fattima to provide food for all seven members of the family. “I received a packet of emergency food supplies containing oil, rice, sugar and a small cash grant. PIN has also supplied us with two packages of baby formula and bottles of drinking water,” Fattima says. To the families whose situation is particularly difficult PIN has given a grant of 50 – 150 dollars. “The IDPs have used the money primarily to buy drinking water, food or to pay for an urgent surgery, which they could not have afforded otherwise,” Jitka Škovránková describes.
The People in Need team is rendering aid in the Idlib Governorate as well, where regular waves of IDPs are heading from the most affected areas of Hama and Homs. An information centre was established for the newcomers to provide them with information about shelter possibilities and other aid. “We distribute emergency food packets or bread to thousands of IDPs,” Jitka Škovránková reckons.
“We select families that need our help most,” says Mohamed Abukamal, a PIN employee in Syria. “Those are mainly the people who fled their homes because of aerial bombardment and now are living in schools, for example,” he adds. An emergency food packet contains essential food items such as oil, sugar, rice, lentils or pasta and weighs around 20 kg. The food kit also includes a small cash grant of 12.5 dollars. “Families use this allowance to buy additional food or refills for gas stoves which are used by women to prepare modest food for the whole family,” Mohamed explains.
PIN in Syria
People in Need‘s aid to the victims of the Syrian conflict focuses its efforts on emergency relief – on providing food, material and medical assistance. PIN belongs to the biggest aid providers in the north of the country along with its permanent offices and teams in the Aleppo and Idlib Governorates. Until the end of the last year, PIN had been helping the refugees in Jordan and Iraq by providing psychosocial assistance or drinking water through constructing a water reservoir in a refugee camp. A new mobile emergency unit is saving the lives of refugees in the north of Jordan. The Czech public has already donated more than 6 million Czech crowns via public fundraising campaign SOS Syria and other 5 million have been released from the People in Need Club of Friends relief fund. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, partner non-governmental organizations within Alliance2015 such as Welthungerhilfe or Concern Worldwide and also Vodafone Foundation contribute no less. People in Need has already helped more than 260,000 Syrians afflicted by the war.
Read more about our help in Syria.
For more information please contact:
Marek Štys, Relief Programmes Manager, + 420 777 053 522
Jitka Škovránková, Desk Officer for Syria, +420 777 787 934