The Syria crisis is reaching its fifth anniversary in March 2016, and more than half the country's population is in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Children and their families desperately need food, water and blankets. Having lost everything they know and owned, they are left vulnerable to disease and malnutrition. An estimated 4.1 million people have fled the conflict in Syria for neighbouring countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraqi Kurdistan.
What we are doing
Our 400-plus regional staff are working to meet the needs of families both displaced within Syria and those now sheltering in neighbouring Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon.
In Syria, our team is working with partners such as the Syrian Red Crescent to save lives wherever possible. Present in Hassakeh governorates, Aleppo, Dera'a, Damascus, rural Damascus, Hama, Idleb, Homs, Tartous, our work in Syria includes ensuring that displaced families have access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, overseeing the distribution of emergency hygiene kits, and building latrines to support families living in camps. To try to secure food access for families, we’re not only distributing food parcels but providing them with the tools and equipment they need to produce and sell their own food. And to improve living conditions for those displaced and other vulnerable families, we’re also distributing non-food items, such as kitchen kits. With the heightened insecurity and the exodus of thousands of Syrian refugees into neighbouring countries, the growing destruction poses the severest of risks for all involved. We remain committed to helping displaced families, both within Syria and in the neighbouring countries where so many Syrians have fled.
A considerable number of Syrian families fled to Iraqi Kurdistan, where we’ve been providing assistance to those sheltering in five refugee camps in the Kurdistan region. Not only have we been constructing sanitation facilities, water networks and drainage systems, but we’re also running hygiene promotion campaigns and distributing hygiene-related items in a bid to prevent disease outbreaks.
And as many of the families who have fled to these camps have experienced unimaginable trauma, particularly the children, we run mental health care programmes, also referred to as ‘psychological first aid’, for women, men and children.
Lebanon, a nation of 4.2 million, has hosted an additional 1.2 million Palestinian and Syrian refugees since the Syria conflict began in 2011. It now hosts the largest number of refugees per capita in the world.
Paying special attention to areas where refugee concentration is highest, we’re offering water, sanitation and hygiene support; providing families with e-cards that are recharged monthly which they can use to purchase essential items such as food – a system that not only enables families to make important decisions about what they need, but also boosts the local economy; and we’re offering psychological support to those who need it. Special mother-and-baby spaces have also been established to provide nursing mothers and pregnant women with privacy and nutrition support.
More than 622,000 Syrian refugees have sought shelter in Jordan. Such an influx can put pressure on local infrastructure and the economy – including unemployment, rental and wage rates. Since 2013 we’ve been working with the communities that have welcomed them, to ensure the needs of both refugees and vulnerable Jordanian families are met – including by repairing and installing water and sanitation facilities in communities and homes, and by providing financial and psychological support.