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ShelterBox Update: Syria refugee crisis
Syrian refugee children at Domiz camp, Iraq Kurdistan, November 2012.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians are displaced from their homes due to unrest in the Syrian Arab Republic that has been mounting since March 2011.
To date, over 411,000 people are estimated by the United Nations to have fled to neighbouring Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon, putting an increasing strain on the governments and host communities. Up to two million are displaced within Syria itself. Numbers are not going to ease.
ShelterBox has partnered with Solidarités International, a humanitarian organisation that provides aid and assistance to survivors of war or natural disaster, to bring ShelterBox aid to internally displaced families in Syria living along Turkey's border.
A truck is en route to the affected area packed with ShelterBox kit including blankets, groundsheets, sets of hats, gloves and scarfs, water carriers, stoves and fuel bottles, as requested by Solidarités International. They stressed the urgency of the need for this winterised aid as families are becoming desperate with cold, wet winter conditions approaching.
'Some people are living in basic, cold concrete structures, others in tents, that are both not winterised so therefore have inadequate insulation,' said a representative from Solidarités International. 'Many do not have proper cooking equipment either.'
One of the thousands of children at Domiz refugee camp, Iraq Kurdistan, November 2012.
Due to security concerns at the Turkey/Syria border, ShelterBox is not sending a Response Team but Solidarités International will distribute the aid through their programme, not only keeping Syrian families warm and dry but also enabling them to live with dignity.
Support To Life is assisting with customs and logistics, a humanitarian agency that works with disaster-stricken communities to help them meet their basic needs and rights which ShelterBox collaborated with in response to the earthquake in Turkey in 2011.
ShelterBox returns to Amman
Meanwhile in Jordan, there are 448 ShelterBoxes prepositioned with the Jordanian Red Crescent. A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) has returned to the capital Amman to explore various areas where the aid would be used most effectively.
'We are meeting with our contacts here to see whether its best to set up camps with ShelterBox tents or distribute aid through our partners in urban areas where many Syrian refugees are living with families,' said SRT member Sallie Buck (UK). 'It's getting cold so blankets and groundsheets would be essential to families living here.'
Children at Domiz refugee camp wearing some hats, gloves and scarfs sets ShelterBox provided as winter sets in, Iraq Kurdistan, November 2012.
Like Jordan, Lebanon is not readily accepting shelter aid therefore ShelterBox has been looking at supplying other lifesaving equipment and school stationary to those in need in the north through local humanitarian agencies.
ShelterBox has brought winterised shelter to 500 families in Iraq Kurdistan at Domiz refugee camp, with thermal tent liners, blankets and groundsheets that insulate the heat, sets of hats, gloves and scarfs, water filters and solar lights. As temperatures drop to subzero in the coming months, these families will be safe, warm and protected from the harsh elements.
As conflict continues in Syria, ShelterBox continues to research into suitable avenues to respond to help families in need in the Middle East.