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Syrian refugee crisis

March 2013

The ongoing violent conflict in Syria between the government and opposition forces has affected more than four and a half million Syrians, more than 900,000 of whom have fled the country as refugees.

Arriving in neighbouring countries after a gruelling and often frightening journey, they are living in cramped conditions and many require essential items such as food, blankets, hygiene kits and trauma counselling.

Christian Aid's emergency appeal for Syria and the Middle East is already enabling partners in Lebanon to respond to the growing Syrian refugee crisis.

Due to the escalation in the conflict, we are extending our response to help Syrian refugees in Iraq and to people in desperate need inside Syria itself.

This year has been full of turmoil, unrest and despair for many civilians across the Middle East region. We are deeply concerned about the lives of civilians caught up in conflicts, and we will be using our emergency funds to provide humanitarian support to those most in need.

A child standing on a muddy road

Photo: Reuters/Omar Ibrahim. Courtesy www.trust.org/alertnet

As the conflict in Syria continues, over 900,000 people have fled the country, seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.

Lebanon is now home to more than 300,000 refugees. The numbers are overwhelming for a country with a population of just four and a half million.

Our emergency appeal funds are helping Christian Aid's partners in Lebanon to respond to the refugee crisis, while our ACT Alliance sister agency, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), is providing maternal healthcare to vulnerable refugee women.

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We have two long-standing partners in Lebanon who are already helping refugees.

Association Najdeh: providing essential provisions to families

Association Najdeh, who already work with Palestinian refugees inside Lebanon, are now helping Palestinian refugees from Syria who fled following targeted attacks on camps in Damascus earlier this year.

Association Najdeh has already helped over 1,000 families by providing them with food baskets containing essentials such as tea, sugar, salt and rice, and nutritious items like milk, cheese and beans to ensure that children especially are not malnourished at this critical time.

They have also given non-food items such as mattresses, blankets and sheets, clothes, hygiene kits and kitchen equipment to enable refugee families to cook meals.

Association Najdeh have identified a further 5,000 in urgent need of support – with your help we can start providing it.

In addition, Association Najdeh reports that many are suffering from psychological trauma and need counselling and therapy, which will form part of their longer-term emergency response work.

Mouvement Social: getting children back in education

Another long-standing Christian Aid partner, Mouvement Social, is enabling Syrian refugee children to continue their education while in Lebanon.

Many of these children cannot access the state school system due to overcrowding and demand for places, or because they do not qualify.

Mouvement Social are running alternative educational classes for these children, which provide them with a safe space for their wellbeing and protection, while giving them access to recreational, educational, social and psychological support.

There are more than 90,000 refugees from Syria in Iraq.

We are seeking to help 1,500 refugee families around Sulaimaniya and Erbil in the north of Iraq, through our long-term Iraqi partner organisation REACH.

REACH intend to provide food supplies containing essentials such as rice, oil, beans, lentils and salt.

They are working to protect refugees from the cold of the northern Iraqi winter by providing blankets and mattresses.

And they are making special provision to protect children by providing infant kits, containing essentials such as nappies, warm clothes and blankets for babies and small children.

Hygiene kits containing first aid equipment, soap, shampoo, water purifiers and sanitary products are another essential for enabling people to keep clean and healthy, and maintain a sense of personal dignity.

Four million people are in urgent need of assistance inside Syria, where the long-running conflict has escalated in recent months. More than 60,000 people have lost their lives, and two million people have been forced to flee their homes to seek refuge in other areas of the country.

The cold weather is one of the biggest challenges now facing displaced Syrian families. People are on the run in soaked clothing and muddy shoes due to the recent heavy rainfall. The displaced families are fearful, freezing and lacking proper winter protection.

We are responding to the desperate humanitarian needs inside the country by sending funds to the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), a sister faith-based international organisation that has been working inside Syria for a number of years. We have already sent £30,000.

Our partner organisation, IOCC, is working with Syrian churches, as well as Islamic and secular organisations, to reach the widest number of people.

IOCC is providing emergency essentials such as food rations, bedding, and hygiene kits. It is also helping to put roofs over the heads of refugee families by providing rent subsidies and shelter improvements.

Cash for work schemes simultaneously provide an income for families who have left jobs and support behind, while carrying out useful local work.

To minimise disruption to education, IOCC is giving families who have fled their homes tuition and fees support to get them into school where possible, and providing remedial classes where necessary.

New mothers and young children are, as ever, among the most vulnerable. IOCC is providing pre- and post-natal care, as well as emergency nutrition and breastfeeding education through mother support groups.

IOCC is also supporting community health workers and providing psychosocial workshops to help people – especially children – who have fled violence to cope with trauma.

With Christian Aid’s support, IOCC will be able to extend this crucial relief to more people in need.

Janet Symes, Christian Aid's head of Middle East region, explains how our partners are meeting not only immediate needs - such as providing food, shelter and warm clothing - but also long-term aims, including education for children and social and psychological support.

Donate now Please help us to continue to support those suffering as a result of violent conflict across the Middle East by donating to our Syria and Middle East emergency appeal.


Find out more


Photo: courtesy of ACT Alliance/Paul Jeffrey

Emergencies fund

Help us respond to emergency situations around the world.

GB Pounds (GBP)

How you can help Syrian refugees in Iraq

£16  could provide a food basket

£40  could pay for an infant kit

£60  could help pay for a hygiene kit

Voices from Syria: living as refugees

Moustapha (14), Aliyah (11) and Hassan (14) describe their flight from Syria to Lebanon.

Syrian voices

External links

Christian Aid press officer Johanna Rogers shares her experiences following a visit to Lebanon:

Lebanon: The struggle to survive after escaping Syria

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