Wednesday 08 August 2012
ShelterBox responds to Syria refugee crisis
Ongoing violence in Syria over the past 15 months has caused a significant number of refugees to flee across the border to neighbouring countries Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.
A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) has been in Lebanon's capital Beirut assessing suitable options to help relieve the increasing pressure on host Lebanese families, who are sharing their often overcrowded homes with Syrian refugees.
'The situation is very dynamic,' said SRT member Alice Jefferson (UK). 'It is very difficult to fully ascertain the numbers of refugees currently in Lebanon.'
It is thought that Lebanon is almost at capacity in hosting the refugee influx with the numbers continuously rising. There was a significant spike seen in the number of refugees arriving in Lebanon during the 17-18 July violence in Damascus in southwest Syria. Further significant influxes occur when violence is centred in Syria's western city Homs, due to its proximity with the Lebanese border.
'Restore some normality'
'The host family support here is incredible as many households have opened their doors to multiple Syrian family groups,' said Alice. 'But we are looking at how to decongest these homes, relieving host families, and house those who have fled the continuous violence as well as try to restore some sense of normality to their lives.'
ShelterBox has been coordinating their efforts with the Ministry for Social Affairs; the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR); and various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working at a local level, some of which are already providing food and medical support to refugees.
'We are looking at providing contingency stocks with UNHCR if violence suddenly escalates and there is another major influx across the border,' commented Alice.
'Belal Al Ayoubi is a Rotaractor and has been invaluable in acting as our interpreter and assisting us with local knowledge and contacts as well as transport.'