Syrians Afflicted with Fighting, Hunger and Cold – People in Need directly Provides Food, Blankets and ClothingPublished: Dec 13, 2012 Reading time: 10 minutes
Prague, Aleppo (21st November 2012) – Fighting in Syria has already directly afflicted 2,5 million people and more than 1,2 million have been forced to leave their homes and become refugees in their own country. Hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people are suffering from ceaseless bombing, but also from the upcoming winter and a lack of food. People in Need reallocated resources from People in Need Club of Friends relief fund to provide drugs and hospital equipment and also baby food for hundreds of children in the north of the country, which is difficult to be targeted by the officially approved aid. The PIN team is trying to identify the Syrians’ needs directly in the areas of continuing fighting and deliver aid to the affected. The most vulnerable people hiding in schools, abandoned buildings, farms or mosques, are supplied with food, woollen blankets and warm clothing. Help the Syrian civilians too by sending financial contribution to buy food and blankets.
Moreover, the areas of conflict are facing the forthcoming winter. It has rained a lot in November, the temperatures reach around 10°C and in a few weeks they will fall to just above zero. Without blankets, food and warm clothes the people find themselves in an alarming situation. “It is too cold outside now and it keeps raining non-stop, so you cannot sleep outside. Everyone is looking for a place in a school, at someone’s place or at a farm,” twelve-year-old Noor from the city of Harem says. The pieces of shrapnel that had hit her during a several-day bombardment of the city were removed from her body a few days ago by doctors from Ras al-Hassan Hospital.
Aid the victims of the conflict in Syria too, even a little helps:
290 CZK – one woollen blanket
500 CZK – food for one family with children for 2 weeks
10,000 CZK – equipment for one field hospital with drugs and facilities for the treatment of wounded and ill civilians
Aid can be sent directly to 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
People in Need has opened a permanent office in eastern Turkey and the staff are regularly monitoring the situation in Syria. “In the north-western provinces there are tens of thousands of internally displaced persons suffering hardship and only a fraction of the much-needed help is delivered. We are focusing on that particular area and at the same time we are trying to extend the aid further away from the borders to Homs, Aleppo and other regions such as Latakia, Idlib and Hama, where the fighting is currently raging,” says PIN Relief Programmes Manager Marek Štys as he describes the situation.
Our immediate priority is to assist the refugees before the winter, deliver food and medical equipment. “We are currently one of the very few organizations able to help efficiently in the north of the country and supply the suffering civilians with aid immediately,” Marek Štys says. Besides emergency relief to the most vulnerable, People in Need equips hospitals in Syria and supports physicians in the environs of Damascus, who render psychosocial assistance to the refugees.
Apart from the fights, the greatest threat for the refugees is posed by the upcoming winter. The temperatures at night already reach only around 10°C and in January they permanently fall below zero, it tends to snow, and such weather usually lasts until March. “People are fleeing their homes only with basic necessities, they hide in houses with no heating, often sleep on the ground without any blankets. Above all, what they need most are warm blankets, mattresses, clothing or shoes,” Jitka Škovránková, Desk Officer for Syria, who visited the conflict area in Syria last week, notes.
“Our family had lived outside in a tent together with another refugee family for a long time, but a storm took the tent away and since it was cold outside, we moved to the mosque, which had been made available by the locals for the refugees like us,” eight-year-old Abdulrahman from Idlib, who is healing from meningitis in Ad Daana Hospital, explains. He was lucky as now hospitals admit mainly the wounded.
People in makeshift shelters are also frequently subjected to aerial bombardment. “It is one of the reasons why parents are afraid of sending their children to school. And school buildings are often blown up by bombs or flooded by refugees anyway,” Škovránková describes the harsh reality in Syria.
PIN supplies food to the most vulnerable
Being funded by People in Need Club of Friends relief fund and The Real Gift project, People in Need first focused on the most vulnerable group comprising young children, mothers and pregnant women. Hundreds of children in areas of Idlib, Latakiaand Aleppo have received baby food. “Along with the nutrition we distribute medicines for infants, nappies, baby water, vitamins and nutritional supplements for mothers and pregnant women,” Škovránková says.
“Today we have received another supply of baby food and nappies. It helps us a lot, because my wife is exhausted and there is not enough food especially for young children,” Omar, who escaped from Aleppo with his wife and daughter because of the fighting, says. “The main thing is that we are away from the fights, hopefully everything else can be tackled,” the man, who is currently staying in Dar Taizzah School with his family, adds.
The fleeing people are troubled with the upcoming winter, but also with a lack of food. The economy of the country is severely crippled, as for example the lack of flour manifests. The government has also cut off supplies of flour to the areas it lost control over, which has resulted in soaring prices of food.
Shops are half-empty as food prices shoot up
“The price of bread has quadrupled in some areas and somewhere it is not available at all. In general, the shops are half-empty and prices of food have risen up multiple times,” Škovránková describes the situation in Syria. “The refugees often eat what they find in the fields or what they get from the villagers,” she adds. There have even been cases when people queuing in front of bakeries were targeted by warplanes.
Some refugee camps are full of mud after the rain. “The children only have slippers and one set of clothing. Lately they were ill, but we were given medicine and medical care,” says Halil from Ariha, who is waiting in Atma makeshift camp near the Turkish border together with his children. “I hope that the children do not lose much weight in winter. We have been eating only stale bread for a week since we cannot afford anything else,” Halil says and relishes that he and his family are not in the war zone any longer. Yet, the journey to a refugee camp in Turkey might still take long. Along with Halil, there are another 12,000 people waiting as the Turkish authorities allow in only 250 Atma refugees every ten days.
People in Need provides hospital equipment
The forthcoming winter will impose more demands on the collapsing health-care system. According to the United Nations, 75 % of Syrian hospitals have ceased operation, there is a lack of medical supplies and most of the inhabitants do not have access to state-funded health care. Therefore, the health services are substituted by field hospitals and clinics run by independent medical personnel.
“For instance, medical facilities in Ad Daana, Ras al Hassan or Dar Taizzah are currently treating mainly the wounded, only very few of them deliver outpatient care. Women give birth at home, for example,” Škovránková claims. “There is a lack of basic drugs in the country. Medical facilities are hampered by a shortage of insulin, painkillers or hypertension treating drugs. The health centres are often powered only by generators, which run just for several hours a day due to the shortage of fuel, so surgeries often have to be performed during the two hours in the evening when the light is provided by the generator,” the coordinator concludes.
That is the reason why People in Need backs the UOSSM medical organization by supplying drugs and medical equipment. The UOSSM directly runs tens of field hospitals and clinics in Syria. The organization has equipped an operating theatre in Alayalama Hospital having utilized the resources provided by People in Need Club of Friends relief fund, while Vodafone company has contributed to equipping a hospital near the city of Hama. In the environs of Damascus we promote doctors who offer psychosocial assistance to internally displaced persons. “In cooperation with our partners we have trained 65 voluntary social workers that work in Damascus and Deira. They have treated more than a thousand people focusing especially on children,” Škovránková describes.
Currently, the regions we fail to supply with aid pose the gravest problem. Even the UN has admitted recently that there are several regions across Syria they entirely lack information about the people’s needs from. One of these regions is the Old City in Homs. “We are trying to reach the places, where assistance is needed most, together with our partners. What would help improve the situation now is to negotiate humanitarian corridors with all parties of the conflict, but we do not consider it to be a realistic prospect of the next few months,” Štys says.
“Despite all the risks, we are succeeding in giving direct and tailor-made help to the physicians in the country, who are putting themselves at risk by treating the wounded and saving lives. We are also lending a hand to the refugees that have settled in the frontier areas. We have distributed several millions Czech crowns from the Club of Friends; Vodafone and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have contributed as well. However, the needs are vast and we can save lives. Though only few are willing to help inside the country, it is still made possible,” PIN’s CEO Šimon Pánek describes its activities.
The situation in Syria
The situation in Syria is gradually deteriorating. The UN estimates that by the beginning of next year, around 4 million people inside the country will have been in need of humanitarian aid. This figure includes 2 million children, who are prevented from attending schools and experience traumas. Nowadays, there are 408,000 officially registered refugees in the neighbouring countries, the estimate for next year is as high as 710,000 people. Every day some two to three thousand refugees escape from Syria to the neighbouring states. The worst exodus could have been witnessed on 8 November when within the scope of one day, 11,000 Syrians fled the country, out of which 9,000 fled to Turkey and 1,000 to Lebanon and Jordan respectively. Since the fighting started, over 40,000 people have died in Syria.
PIN in Syria:
While helping the victims of the Syrian conflict, the People in Need Organization primarily focuses on providing health and psychosocial assistance and rehabilitation of the infrastructure. It supplies medical equipment and medicines to the clandestine network of Syrian doctors – the Doctors Coordinate of Damascus (DCD) and also to the Union des Organisations Syriennes de Secours Médicaux (UOSSM) - the union of Syrian doctors. PIN supplies medicines and food to the internally displaced persons in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo as well. PIN also aids within the MEDEVAC Programme and in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides a mobile emergency unit at the Syria-Jordan borders. We provide psychosocial assistance for the Syrian refugees in Jordan and the internally displaced persons in Damascus and its surroundings. We also assist Syrian refugees in Iraq. We are building a water reservoir in Domiz Refugee Camp in the north of the country. People in Need Club of Friends relief fund has already donated 4 million CZK to help Syria. For more information about the PIN aid in Syria read here.
For further information please contact:
Marek Štys, Relief Programmes Manager, +420 777 053 522
Jitka Škovránková, Desk Officer for Syria, +420 777 787 934