People in Need Has Helped almost 100,000 Syrians; Refugees in Idlib Provided with Shelter, Blankets and FoodPublished: Mar 14, 2013 Reading time: 8 minutes
Prague, Idlib (12th March 2013) – The conflict between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition forces has been raging on for two years now and has gradually become the worst humanitarian disaster of today.
According to the UN, over one million refugees have fled the country so far and the situation keeps deteriorating. More than 220,000 people fled Syria in February, while another five thousand flee every day. However, the internal refugees, whose number has risen to 2,5 million, are in an even more sinister situation. These people are not getting any aid and live under a permanent threat of bombardment. People in Need’s emergency relief is now focusing primarily on these refugees. After the first having been opened in Aleppo, a second coordination office has been opened in Idlib. The local team in Idlib renders aid especially to the refugees trying to escape from the focal points of fighting in Idlib, Hama and Homs. People in Need (PIN) has already brought relief to almost 100,000 Syrians and belongs to the very few organizations whose teams operate deep inside the Syrian territories.
Noor, Jabal al-Zawia, a mother of six: “We have lived here for 8 months now. Our village was bombed out by warplanes, luckily we managed to escape in time and all of our family survived. Not everyone was so lucky; it’s terrible and no one knows when only it all ends. As we were fleeing, all the schools, farms and houses on the way were occupied by other refugees and we did not find a place for our seven-member family. That is why we came all the way here after a week, along with others, and we live in this cave. Just brewing tea is work for half a day – we have to chop wood without proper tools and collect the twigs and branches around. Fetching water takes two hours and boiling it over open fire takes another one. The children are sick all the time, we have no medicines and there is no clinic or doctor around.”
According to the official data of the UN, over 4,5 million people need emergency relief. The situation is apparently even worse though. “Only in the six northern provinces that form the rough half of the country, 3,2 million people need emergency relief as based on the field research we participated in,” Jitka Škovránková, Desk Officer for Syria, describes the situation. Every seventh Syrian has left their homes and every twentieth has fled the country. People are fleeing the fighting just with the most basic belongings they are able to grab. Above all, the refugees need food, medicines, baby food, or blankets. Moreover, they are permanently afflicted by the intense fighting.
PIN’s aid in figures:
100,000 Syrians have been provided with emergency relief such as:
13,650 people have been given blankets
14,000 people have been supplied with bread
14,500 people have been provided with food packets
7,150 children have been given baby food
5 hospitals have been equipped
25 clinics have been provided with medicines and medical materials
The refugee waves from central Syria are being provided with aid by the newly opened PIN office in Hazzan in the Idlib Governorate. The local team supplies refugees mainly with blankets and mattresses, packets of emergency food supplies and baby food. “Like in Aleppo, we supply the local bakery with flour daily and help obtain fuel for the ovens. Using 1,5 ton of flour, local bakers daily make bread for 700 most vulnerable families and we deliver it to eight local villages,” Škovránková depicts. Furthermore, PIN has also opened a refugee centre along a major route, where thousands of people flee to the Syria-Turkey border. “Local authorities supply us with information on where the new refugees can take shelter, or on how to reach humanitarian aid,” Jitka Škovránková adds.
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The Syrian PIN team also assists the refugees that are in hiding southward of the City of Idlib in the Jabal al-Zawiya area. Whole families have found shelter not only in schools and farms but also in ancient tombs, caves or in the ruins of ancient buildings while creating what are called the Dead Cities. “Some families have been hiding from the bombardments for six to eight months here in the catacombs, and they have nowhere else to go as their houses have been razed to the ground,” PIN’s Head of Mission in Syria Michal Przedlacki says. “Besides, people need food and water. For example, in the dead city of Serjilla there are roughly 150 families. The market where they can get food and the closest water resources are 10 kilometres away,” Przedlacki adds.
People in this area are not getting any humanitarian aid. The only source of water is often rain, they lack food, and months of living inside the tunnels have taken their toll on the refugees’ health. “According to our research, there are at least 20 thousand people that are in dire need of food and material relief,” Jitka Škovránková enumerates. “While being aided by the Czech government, public donors and the Vodafone Foundation, the PIN team has already provided local refugees with 1,500 blankets, and 2,750 people have been have been given family packets with clothes, a blanket and mattress, shoes or tarpaulin to build makeshift shelters,” Škovránková describes the PIN’s aid.
PIN relief keeps going to the Syria’s largest city of Aleppo, where intense fighting between the opposition forces and the Syrian army soldiers is permanently under way. Apart from having increased the supplies of bread and other food or financial aid, PIN has been able to clear three Aleppo districts from heaps of waste which are a source of contagious diseases. “We have enabled almost two thousand children to get back to school desks at six schools, some of which have temporarily relocated to mosques. Children use schools supplies bought by Czech donors in the Real Gift e-shop,” Jitka Škovránková says.
The two-year conflict in Syria has already claimed 70 thousand lives. The number of refugees has exceeded the magic one million. Half of them are children and most of the children refugees are younger than eleven. Just since the beginning of the year, over 400,000 people have fled the country. In some areas, especially in the northern regions, people haven’t seen any international humanitarian aid for months. The industry is severely crippled, in vast areas there is no health care or education available. However, the conflict’s end is nowhere in sight and all the solutions seem to be blocked at the moment. The participants of the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria in Kuwait have pledged 1.5 billion dollars for aid in 2013. However, the question whether and how the aid is extended to all the needy still remains unanswered.
PIN in Syria
While helping the victims of the Syrian conflict People in Need organization primarily focuses on providing health, material and psychosocial assistance and with permanent offices and teams in the Aleppo and Idlib Governorates counts among the most progressive relief suppliers directly in the country. Until the end of last year, PIN had also been rendering aid to the refugees in Jordan and Iraq, where it helped provide psychosocial assistance and drinking water by building a water reservoir in a refugee camp, and in northern Jordan the refugees’ lives are saved thanks to a new mobile emergency unit. The Czech citizens have donated more than 5 million CZK through the SOS Syria charity collection, another 5 million were supplied by People in Need Club of Friends relief fund. Equally significant aid has been provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, the Alliance2015 non-governmental aid agency Welthungerhilfe and the Vodafone Foundation. People in Need has already helped almost 100,000 Syrians afflicted by the war. For more information about the PIN aid in Syria read here.
Vodafone Foundation Aid
The Vodafone Foundation is the biggest donor of the SOS Syria charity collection and has for long counted among the most significant donors of People in Need. It has donated 1,25 million CZK to assist the relief for Syrians. “Last year we helped equip a field hospital in the suburbs of Hama which gives treatment to about 1,000 patients a month,” the CEO of Vodafone Foundation Ondřej Zapletal depicts the aid and adds that this year their donations are used for buying food and medical supplies for the citizens of Aleppo and other Syrian regions. The foundation supports relief operations of People in Need in the long term. In 2011 it donated almost 500,000 CZK to relief the Somali refugees. The year before, the foundation had donated 700,000 CZK to cope with the flood consequences in Northern Bohemia, and also 300,000 CZK to provide emergency relief for the Haiti earthquake victims.
For more information please contact:
Marek Štys, Relief Programmes Manager, +420 777 053 522
Jitka Škovránková, Desk Officer for Syria, +420 777 787 934