‘My office building was bombed. About 30 people died. I do not know how, but I was not even injured. It was a miracle. I could die at any time. But it is what I have to do to help people.’
Musbah (all names have been changed to protect people from increased danger of attack), works in Aleppo, Syria, for an organisation which provides shelter, food and other assistance to orphans, widows, and other women and children who have been forced to flee the violence and terror the Syrian conflict has rained on their homes.
They have lost their belongings, and face danger every moment. Musbah, a young man who has just gained a scholarship to study advanced science in Europe, admits that his choice to stay in Aleppo causes his family deep concern (‘It makes my mother cry,’ he told us), but he is proud of the work he is doing.
He shows photos of a library they have created, and a bakery, which employs people who have been forced from their homes, and uses local ingredients, to make bread which is then distributed to people in desperate need of food.
Musbah was speaking to us in Turkey, in June 2014, where he was taking a RedR UK training course which will help him to stay safe enough to continue to help some of Syria and the world’s most desperate people to stay alive.
His story is not unusual. Nor is that of the women and children he helps, who have lost everything in a war now into its fourth year.
The United Nations reports that 10.8m Syrians – out of a total population of 22.4m – are in urgent need of aid. It warns that this number will increase to more than 15m by the end of this year.
Close to 4m people have fled to surrounding states, while almost 7m remain within Syria.
And because aid workers are unable to legally enter Syria, the only people who are able to help are people who are dedicated, but inexperienced; committed, but untrained in delivering aid.
That’s where RedR UK comes in: drawing on our experience in specialist international training of NGO workers, and with a focus on capacity building – ensuring that local communities have the skills they need to respond to disasters - we are perfectly placed to deliver the skills ‘Musbah’ and others need, to try to help millions of people affected by war.
From Personal Security Training – helping aid workers to stay safe and healthy enough to deliver aid – to courses specialising in delivering skills to enable people new to the aid sector to provide shelter, food, water and sanitation to refugees and internally-displaced people, RedR UK is on hand to help.
But we cannot provide this vital training indefinitely: we need funding to enable our expert trainers to help Syrians recover from this devastating war.
With your help, we can send experts to the Middle East, or, even better, we can set up a staffed regional centre from which we can deliver vital training to ‘Musbah’ and those like him, to ensure more Syrians receive the help they urgently need.
The Syrian people have the potential and commitment. We have the skills. And you have the ability to make sure they are combined.
Make a donation and help Syrians overcome disaster.
Aid workers need to stay safe in order to do their jobs - providing life-saving food, shelter, water, and medical attention to people in emergencies. In a conflict-related emergency like the one in Syria, that can sometimes be a tall order. Access into the country is sometimes restricted or even blocked entirely by government and rebel forces. Ongoing fighting, multiple factions, and constantly shifting battle lines put humanitarians at risk of attack and kidnapping as well as preventing them from delivering vital aid to victims of the conflict.
Aid agencies, understandably, are very intent on ensuring that their brave staff in the field remain safe so they can continue assisting the people suffering most in the Syrian crisis. This is where RedR comes in.
Since October 2013, we have been training individual aid workers responding to the Syrian crisis on how to stay safe in the field, even with the deck stacked against them. We have also been working with organizations to improve their security from the top down. This training has taken place in Jordan, Syria's neighbor, now accommodating huge numbers of refugees fleeing the crisis.
All of our training around Syria has been molded to address the unique context faced by humanitarians working in the emergency. The course, Personal Safety and Security, for example, examines real situations such as kidnapping, intimidation, or shooting that are frequently faced by aid workers in and around Syria. It is also offered jointly in Arabic and English in order to meet the language needs of the aid workers operating in the area.
Some of the participants in these courses have held roles that are crucial to the success of aid operations around Syria. The benefits of RedR training have reached aid workers at many different levels, in many different kinds of roles, including:
Participants commented that the course taught them to have "awarness of the environment around us" as well as "how to take the correct acttion in any security issue. They also love our trademark simulations, where participants learn to apply the theory of security management and personal security to real life situations. When our trainees walk out the door after a two-day training in Jordan, they can immediately put into practice the lessons about staying safe that they have learned from RedR trainers.
RedR is working with a number of well-known organizations operating in Jordan and Syria, helping them to improve the capacity of their staff to handle the overwhelming need for relief in the area. Many of our course participants are directly helping refugees in the overcrowded al-Zaatari camp, which is now so big that it is technically Jordan's fourth largest city. Some of the agencies represented are:
RedR is continuing to support these organisations and many more in the region. While much of our training in the region thus far has been delivered to the larger international agencies most able to pay for training places, we hope to extend our support to smaller local organisations where the need for skills training tends to be the highest. We know from our assessments in the region that there is very high demand for our training, so we will continue to try to help the frontline aid workers who are most in need of our support. Your donation is helping us to meet that need, which is ultimately leading to better, more targeted, more efficient, and more effective help for people who lost everything when they fled the unreleting conflict.
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