ShelterBox in £2m appeal for Syria's 2m refugees
A target of £2 million has been set by Cornish disaster relief charity ShelterBox in its continuing efforts to help people fleeing the war in Syria.
The organisation, which specialises in providing essential survival kits for the victims of natural and man-made disasters, said the appeal was one of the largest in its history. Speaking at the charity's Helston headquarters, chief operating officer John Leach said it was responding to the news that more than two million Syrians had now fled the fighting.
"Let's show these families that the world has not abandoned them," he said.
Since the humanitarian crisis began two years ago, ShelterBox has provided aid to refugees crossing the borders into neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Kurdistan. So far it has helped around 4,500 displaced Syrians and is now poised to deploy more aid.
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"We have already helped thousands of families, but with an extra push we can help thousands more," said Mr Leach. "The target of £2 million is immensely challenging, but so too is the extent of this crisis. ShelterBox aid – and our methods of delivering it – is proving effective time and again. Now, more than ever before, we need the compassion and generosity of ShelterBox supporters to back our work in the field.
"With colder weather just around the corner, conditions for refugees are only going to worsen as temperatures in the region fall below freezing. ShelterBox offers a winterised shelter solution and wants to bring as many refugee families as possible in from the cold this winter."
The United Nations last week confirmed that more than two million Syrians have fled their homeland since the war began after protesters demanded the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011. In addition to the two million refugees, an additional four million people have been dispersed or made homeless within Syria, separated from their livelihoods and possessions. UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, last week described the situation as "the biggest refugee crisis of all time".
Mr Leach said: "The refugees and the rhetoric keep on coming. While the world talks of atrocities and interventions, diplomacy and warfare, the lines of families fleeing conflict are still growing. It took two years for the exodus from Syria to reach one million – but it took only the last six months to pass the two million threshold. Three quarters of these war-weary are women and children."
ShelterBox's £2 million appeal aims to reach a further 5,000 families over the coming months. The operation will be co-ordinated from its Helston HQ. To donate, visit shelterbox.org or call 0300 0300 500.
See John Leach talking about the work of ShelterBox on video here: