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More than 80.000 people arrived in Nabeek and Adra Senaaia near Damascus during the holidays. From the 21st to the 24th they arrived in groups of 10-20.000 people with nothing but a few items of clothing. DRC Syria immediately activated its emergency response and logistics unit in order to respond to the emergency.
Haitham Samaneh, Logistics and Procurement Coordinator for DRC Syria, took part in the response.
“These people were forced to leave their homes in the middle of the night with nothing but the clothes on their backs to a remote area without any means to keep them warm, dry or even sheltered from the freezing temperatures and harsh conditions,” says Haitham Samaneh.
In cooperation with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and other humanitarian organizations, the DRC worked against the clock to be able to provide urgently needed winter clothes for infants, children and adults and in addition mattresses, hygiene kits and baby kits. Everything was delivered within 72 hours and DRC was able to assist approximately 25.000 people. The response is still ongoing to deliver assistance to more beneficiaries.
“I am extremely proud of our national staff. Everybody rose to the requirement of the urgent situation, and chose to spend nine consecutive days during the holidays in the office, at the warehouse and running around between the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the loading location and the transportation company to ensure proper response,” says Haitham Samaneh.
According to the UN there are at the moment 9.3 million people in need of humanitarian assistance of which 6.52 million are internally displaced. In Damascus and rural Damascus the situation as become unbearable for many, who live under miserable conditions without access to food or shelter.
The situation concerns International Director of DRC, Ann Mary Olsen:
”We have heard repeatedly about the impossible conditions that Syrians in and around Damascus live under. We have heard about starvation, mal- and undernutrition and there is a massive need for help and protection. Now there are an additional 80.000 people in the area and the number is increasing. That limits the already limited resources that are available to the Syrians,” says Ann Mary Olsen.
DRC provided relief to more than 500.000 people during 2013. Right now the focus is on distributing thermal blankets and winter clothes to children and adults in Homs, Aleppo, Dara’a, Damascus and Rural Damascus.