Trying to ease suffering in Syria and Iraq Kurdistan

by ShelterBox | @ShelterBox | ShelterBox
Friday, 20 June 2014 15:14 GMT

IRAQ KURDISTAN. AUGUST 2013. ShelterBox has been helping Syrian refugees in Iraq Kurdistan for over two years. (Simon Clarke/ShelterBox)

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* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

ShelterBox is striving to help families who have been forced from their homes due to conflict but remain within the borders of their own countries in Syria and Iraq.

These internally displaced persons (IDPs) are just some of the 33.3 million that the United Nations estimates to be the IDP global population in their latest report.

A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in northern Iraq. Reports state that fighting between militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and pro-government forces are driving hundreds of thousands of families from their homes, particularly in Mosul, to seek safety and shelter in Iraq Kurdistan’s peaceful cities of Erbil and Duhok.

ShelterBox has a team in Iraq Kurdistan meeting with partner aid agencies to see how it can support the humanitarian response, and shelter IDPs.

‘Families will be made to uproot again’

‘The IDP situation here is fluid,’ said one of ShelterBox's operations coordinators currently in the country. ‘Some families have already returned to Mosul but the fighting is expected to continue, which would increase the number of people in need in the days and weeks to come.

‘Coordination with other aid agencies and government bodies is key in this response to avoid duplications in aid efforts and help those in need more effectively and efficiently.’

Meanwhile in Syria there are thought to be 6.5 million displaced people alone where ongoing conflict also causes families to be uprooted several times. Men, women and children face violence daily as they remain within an active conflict zone. Access to food, water, shelter and medical care is often limited as it’s hard for aid agencies to reach them.

Two trucks of ShelterBox aid en route to Syria

However ShelterBox has been providing vital aid to Syrian IDPs for over two years now by working with partner humanitarian organisations that already have a presence in the country.

‘We have just sent two more trucks of ShelterBox aid that will be delivered to IDPs in Syria by our long-term partner charity Hand in Hand for Syria,’ said ShelterBox operations coordinator Sam Hewett. ‘Tents are en route now along with Shelter Repair Kits, mosquito nets, water filters and carriers, blankets, groundsheets, SchoolBoxes and solar lamps.’

‘At first glance this UN report seems to describe a hopeless situation, with conflict on the rise globally, and numbers of refugees at a record high,’ said ShelterBox CEO Alison Wallace. ‘But here, at ShelterBox, our outlook is hopeful because we have the means and experience to help provide families with shelter and essential equipment.

‘The numbers may be daunting, but that positive outlook reflects the attitude of our supporters, who give so generously because they are moved by the plight of these families on the run. ShelterBox is dedicated to doing all it can, wherever it can, to ease the suffering of those fleeing conflict.’

Thank you.