The public fundraising appeal launched last week by leading British charities – which has featured prominently on radio and television in the UK – has raised more than £4.2 million.
The 14 member organisations of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) – including HelpAge sister organisation, Age International – will use the funds in Syria and the neighbouring countries, to which over one million refugees have fled. They are already providing vital aid such as food, clean water, emergency shelter and medical care. However, much more is needed to support those affected by the conflict.
The DEC Syria Crisis Appeal was launched on Thursday 21 March with appeals from actor Rufus Sewell as well as actor, writer, comedian, broadcaster – and former Month Python member – Michael Palin, journalist John McCarthy and actress Juliet Stephenson. The money that has come in since the first appeals were broadcast on Thursday will enable the DEC members to provide more help to more people.
Responding to effects of the Syrian conflict
The total number of people in need of assistance in Syria and the surrounding countries is more than five million. More than three million people have been forced to leave their homes by fighting in Syria. Two million have fled to other parts of the conflict-torn country. A further one million have escaped across the border to seek safety in neighbouring countries.
The number of refugees fleeing the country has increased from 1,000 a day at the beginning of the year to more than 8,000 a day. A further two million people remain trapped in their homes in Syria where the health system has collapsed in many areas, water supplies are disrupted and food is often in short supply.
HelpAge International is currently collaborating with Handicap International to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan.
We are using our joint expertise to identify the needs of the most vulnerable groups affected by the conflict in Syria.
This includes older people and people with disabilities, to ensure their access to essential relief services and to look at the best ways of providing further assistance.
Worsening refugee crisis
Many older people stayed behind in their homes for as long as possible but now that the crisis in Syria has worsened they are fleeing in greater numbers, often arriving at already overcrowded refugee camps. They are finding it harder to stay with host families whose homes are already full.
Older people are having to pay ever increasing prices for basic essentials and deal with a system which is not equipped to cater for their specific needs.
Reaching vulnerable Syrian refugees
Frances Stevenson, Head of Emergencies at HelpAge International, said:
"Vast numbers of Syrian refugees are fleeing into Jordan and Lebanon. Among them are thousands of people who are extremely vulnerable. Many are older people and people with disabilities.
"HelpAge International and Handicap International have teamed up to make sure those refugees receive the essential assistance they need to survive, and to do so with dignity.
"With the DEC money, HelpAge and Handicap International will work closely with other aid agencies to help them to reach particularly vulnerable people affected by the conflict in Syria.
"We will help them to provide the appropriate kind of relief and services for the particular needs of older people and people with disabilities, and to make sure the assistance is accessible for people with only limited strength and mobility.
"We will also identify the most frail, isolated and vulnerable older or disabled people and provide them with direct assistance so they have the basic essentials of a roof over their heads, food, clothing and medical care."