Syria

People in Need is helping 200,000 people in Syria every month

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Since October, it also helped 14,000 families who were escaping intense shelling

Aleppo, Idlib (3 February 2016) – The situation in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo and Idlib has become significantly worse in the past few months due to continuing shelling. Thousands of internally displaced people are heading towards the north of the country, as they escape intense bombings from the Syrian government forces, Russian air force or the so-called Islamic State (Daesh). The airstrikes also focus on the supply routes from Turkey, which are also used for the delivery of humanitarian aid. Civilian targets like mills, bakeries and schools are also often hit by bombs. Beside food and material aid, public works, support for education and local administrations, People in Need (PIN) has also started providing immediate financial support for families travelling to safer areas to escape shelling and fighting.

Families receiving financial help are those who have been on the run for more than a month and do not have enough money to pay for food or accommodation. Every family receives 90 USD, which, given current prices, should cover basic foodstuffs for a five to six member family for one month. “We left two months ago because the army was approaching and carrying out attacks on our village,” says a man who left the region south of Aleppo with his family. “With the money we received, we bought a stove and food. We need to wait until the airstrikes stop. Then we will go back home to our village.”

A family from the Hama area had a similar experience. “We had to leave more than a month ago because of barrel bombs. Once the airstrikes seize, we want to go back and fix up our home,” says the father of a family for the city of Kafr Zita. People in Need has provided immediate financial support to almost 14,000 families, or more than 75,000 people. In the upcoming months, some 5,500 more families will receive aid as well.

People most often buy food with the money they receive. “Our experience shows that almost 75% of the funds distributed are used for food. It is also used for warm clothes, heaters and paying for accommodation. Warm clothes are particularly needed now in the winter months,” says Vladimir de A. Lima, the PIN humanitarian aid coordinator in Syria. “Providing financial aid is often more productive than distributing food packages. The families can choose what they want to buy with the money. It is also uncertain how long they can stay in one particular village, and it is easier to travel with money,” he adds.

Most internally displaced persons are escaping bombings and shooting

People from the conflict zones often escape to places where humanitarian aid is regularly delivered. Thanks to this aid they try to wait out the worst period so that they can go back home afterward. From PIN’s long-term observations, it seems that most internally displaced people do not want to or are unable to settle elsewhere, and escaping Syria completely is also not a viable solution for them. They try to return to their homes as soon as they are able to. The financial grants help them makes end meet during this waiting period in areas not too far from their homes.

Most civilians leave their homes only in critical situations when they have no other options left. According to polls carried out by PIN, 73% of the refugees left their homes because of bombings and shooting, 21% because of battles, and 6% because of barrel bomb attacks. “Working directly in Syria is a big security challenge for us. The front line is constantly moving and changing, which means the civilians we provide aid to are also constantly on the move. Right now the situation in the areas where People in Need is working is a bit more stable than before. But, for example, in October and November of last year it was very difficult,” Tomáš Kocian of People in Need assesses the situation.

As a result of the war which has ravaged Syria for over five years now, every second person in the country has to rely on humanitarian aid. Some 4.6 million people have left the country, settling primarily in the neighbouring states – Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan. Another 6.5 million who have had to leave their homes have stayed in Syria. This means that every third Syrian is a refugee in their own country.

Support for the local market and renewal of sources of income

People in Need have been working in Syria since 2012. During this time it has provided direct aid to 1.8 million Syrians. It has permanent offices in Allepo and Idlib, and the program is coordinated from southern Turkey. The PIN team consists of 172 local and 12 foreign employees. In addition to distributing bread, food packages, food stamps, financial grants and other material aid to more than 200,000 people per month, People in Need is also trying to help revitalize the local market, local administration and infrastructure, so that people here will not have to depend only on outside help. Since April 2015, it has coordinated a programme directly in Aleppo and Idlib, called Cash for Work. Through this programme, people who have lost their sources of income can get employed in locally organized public works and earn enough money to cover their basic living expenses. Men most often help the local authorities with garbage collection, street cleaning, repairing roads, sewage and piping systems or fixing the electrical supply. Women are usually involved with afterschool activities for children up to 8 years of age. Aside from teaching, they also help the children deal with the consequences of the war, which they are forced to face. People in Need has helped almost 2,000 Syrian families through the Cash for Work programme.

People in Need joined international campaigns advocating an end to the conflict

In January 2016, People in Need has actively joined the campaign of more than 120 humanitarian organizations and UN agencies calling for an end to the suffering in Syria. In the joint statement, leaders of humanitarian aid organizations appeal not only to politicians, but also to the global public: “More than ever before, the world needs to hear a collective public voice calling for an end to this outrage. Because this conflict and its consequences touch us all.” People in Need have also signed the declaration from the Supporting Syria & the Region Conference, which took place in London on 4 February 2016. The conference hosts declared that: “The key topic of discussion has to be Syrian society, the men and women of Syria. After five years of increasing violence, 2016 has to be the year when Syrians will be provided with support and dignity, which they have been seeking for a long time now and which until now has been denied to them. If the international community will not be strong enough to be heard, the crisis of this generation will continue to escalate and potentially spiral out of control with disastrous consequences not only on the local level, but also far beyond Syrian borders.”

People in Need provides humanitarian aid in Syria thanks to the support of the Czech public, who have made donations to the SOS Syria campaign, the Real Gift drive or supported us through the People in Need Club of Friends. We receive institutional support from the European Union through the European Commission's Humanitarian aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the UK’s Depratment for International Development (DFID), Welthungerhilfe from the Alliance2015 platform and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. People in Need thanks all of the donors for their support.

For more information contact:

Naďa Aliová, People in Need programme coordinator for Syria and Iraq, M: +420 778 486 244, nada.aliova@peopleinneed.cz

Tomáš Kocian, People in Need humanitarian aid coordinator for Syria, Iraq and Ukraine, M:+420 777 787 970, Tomas.Kocian@peopleinneed.cz