Global Refugee Fund

by IsraAID
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund

Overnight on September 8th, fires ravaged through the Moria Refugee Camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, the largest of its kind in Europe. Over the course of the following 24-48 hours, the majority of the camp was burned down. More than 12,000 refugees - mainly from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria - were left without a place to sleep or access to vital services provided by humanitarian actors, including hygiene supplies and education for children.

In the days leading up to the fires, there had been 35 positive cases of COVID-19 reported among the population of Moria. Since the destruction of the camp, cases have continued to rise. Social distancing and safe hygiene practices became even more challenging as people slept on the sides of the road and in orchards.

The Greek government has constructed a temporary camp on Lesbos, which currently accommodates 9,600 people. The living conditions in Moria were harsh, with minimal access to necessary services, but the infrastructure in the new camp is even more limited.

IsraAID has been working in Lesbos for five years and our team on the ground was able to respond immediately. Despite severely restricted access to both Moria and the new temporary camp, we were able to distribute essential non-food items together with partner organizations and IsraAID team members who lived in the camp. IsraAID’s team distributed tents, sleeping bags, and power banks; 1,500 personal hygiene kits including soap, hand sanitizer and reusable face masks made at our refugee community center in northern Greece; in addition to 182 family hygiene kits and 25 baby packs to families living around the site of the old camp.

IsraAID’s ongoing program in Lesbos focuses on expanding access to education for refugee children. In addition to focusing on meeting urgent physical needs after the fire, our team has worked to provide psychosocial and education support for children affected by the emergency. We have distributed 500 activity and education packs for children aged 2-6 and 7-12 inside the temporary camp. The packs include arts and crafts materials, worksheets and activity books that work as a psychosocial support aid for children. Interventions like these are crucial to mitigating the potential psychological effects of traumatic experiences.

IsraAID has also launched a capacity building program for refugee teachers from our educational facility adjacent to Moria. With themes like “stress management”, “health, hygiene and safety”, “child protection”, and “psychological first aid”, the program provides teachers with the resources and knowledge to support their students – and themselves – at this difficult time. Each member of the refugee community has already suffered their own trauma; capacity building supports them in building themselves as individuals, as well as a community.


N., 25 years old, is a refugee from Afghanistan. N. teaches at IsraAID’s Secret Garden Educational Center, providing social and emotional learning in Dari for children from Afghanistan.

N. had this to say about their role as a teacher: “Teaching for me is like a painkiller, it allows me to forget the pain, everything that bothers me and doesn’t let me feel okay. When I walk into the classroom, I feel so much energy from the children that I can’t allow myself to be down, it makes me focus and put myself together. I am looking forward to resuming our classes with kids from the camp.”

N. has been taking part in IsraAID’s capacity building program for teachers, learning new techniques to better support children from the refugee community after the fires.

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How do we get through this crisis? It’s the question on everyone’s lips. By now, we’re used to hearing – and following – all the key messages. Stay inside. Keep at least two meters away from anyone else. Wash. Your. Hands.

But what happens in places where these important public health instructions aren’t just a shift in lifestyle, they’re basically impossible? That is the reality for many of the world’s refugees.

In Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwest Kenya, home to more than 190,000 refugees who have fled conflict across the region, water is in short supply. IsraAID runs three safe spaces in the camp offering daily activities, education and – crucially – safe water for children. The new regulations brought in to help control the spread of the virus have forced our team to temporarily suspend these activities. But without these safe spaces, many children in the camp will be at greater risk. Add to that severe shortages of medical facilities and personnel and it’s clear that a coronavirus outbreak in Kakuma could be devastating.

Thousands of miles north of Kakuma, the Greek island of Lesbos is one of the main entry points to Europe for refugees fleeing conflict and political persecution in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world. Many of them end up in Moria Refugee Camp. More than 20,000 people have been pushed into a camp designed for just over 3,000. The day-to-day potential for harm has now been coupled with the risks of a global pandemic, and fears about a potential outbreak in Moria have risen as cases of COVID-19 have been reported on the island.

In order to meet the challenges of the pandemic head-on, our teams are coming up with creative solutions to keep programs running and contribute to a global effort to reduce the spread of the disease. In some places, like Greece, where most of the refugees we work with have access to smartphones, we are transitioning our classes and services online or providing activity ideas and homework for children.

In Kenya, in addition to food supplements to combat malnutrition, we are donating other basic and medical supplies, including soap, hand sanitizer, malaria test kits, and more.

We will get through this thanks to a big, shared effort on the part of governments, businesses, NGOs, and communities. No one has all the answers, but if we first acknowledge that we’re all in this together and that everyone can play their part, then that is an important start. For IsraAID, this means doubling down on our commitment to the often-vulnerable communities we work with to help navigate a safe path through this crisis by providing public health information, distributing hygiene supplies, putting classes and trainings online where possible, and – yes – making sure people can wash their hands.

Thank you for supporting refugees around the world. 


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Today, conditions in South Sudan are dire: 80% of the country’s population lives on less than a dollar a day; 7.1 million people are in need of aid; and 1.83 million are internally displaced persons (IDPs). Women in South Sudan are among the most vulnerable groups. When fighting breaks out, women are deliberately targeted: rape is used as a weapon of war; domestic violence rates spike in part due to emotional distress; and weak reporting mechanisms leave survivors with inadequate support.

Overwhelming instability and consistent mass movement exacerbates service provision, buckling under a renewed stream of survivors in desperate need of basic services. The region’s long history of violence and displacement, as well as high levels of food insecurity, malnutrition, and potential for the spread of disease, leave these communities with overwhelming emotional distress and limited access to urgently needed support.

Each of IsraAID's 12 WGFS offers a core set of services complemented by additional activities based on requests from community members; these include:

  • Case management for survivors of GBV, including emergency support, individual counseling, and access to referral pathways.
  • Women’s groups focusing on trauma relief, psychosocial support activities, livelihood training, and literacy and numeracy classes.
  • Community strengthening activities focusing on bolstering structures that can mitigate the risk of GBV, and advocate for a culture of prevention. These awareness raising activities seek to break down stigmas and taboos, encourage use of reporting mechanisms, and end harmful practices such as child marriage, forced marriage, domestic abuse, sex trafficking, and rape.
  • Menstrual Hygiene Management workshops reach out to women and girls of reproductive age, providing them with reusable sanitary pads, training them on production of sanitary pads, and teaching sexual and reproductive health modules.

IsraAID social workers first met Faizah during a March 2019 awareness-raising session. 25 years old, she has been separated from her parents since 2016, when they fled from South Sudan to Bidi-Bidi refugee camp in Uganda. Faizah was left to support herself. Despite working hard, she could no longer afford to pay for her basic necessities - even lunch.

Faizah decided to marry Asim, a man of around 40 years old, in August 2018. She hoped to settle down and ensure that her needs, such as food and medicine, were provided for, despite the deteriorating economic conditions in South Sudan.

Quickly, Faizah’s marriage became the cause of new problems. She was subjected to daily physical violence by her husband, even losing two teeth and suffering serious back injuries from the beatings. She had hoped to travel to Uganda to reunite with her parents, but could not afford the cost of the journey.

Faizah joined IsraAID’s Women Group sessions. She received both medical and psychosocial support, facilitated by IsraAID. She soon described a new sense of hope, self-belief, and regained strength. She has now started to move on with her life away from Asim.

Through support and guidance from the social workers, Faizah was empowered to return to work, starting a small-scale tea business in a village. She has escaped the violence and the control of her husband, renting her own tukul and living independently.

Faizah continues to attend the IsraAID Women’s Group, and has committed to empowering fellow women who find themselves in similar situations to her own.

Thank you for supporting this program!

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IsraAID’s programming in the Palorinya Refugee Settlement in Moyo District provides Child Protection and basic educational services to the local population. Close to 330,000 individuals live in the area, including refugees and the host community, made up of 65% children under the age of 17. With 74% of households reporting that at least one member lacks the psychological care they need, protection services are crucial to provide urgent support. Uganda hosts more than 1.2 million refugees, just under one third of all refugees worldwide, and the highest number in Africa. 67% of these refugees are from neighboring South Sudan, where war and civil strife forced them from their homes; others are from the DRC, Burundi, Somalia, and Rwanda.

IsraAID’s team on the ground improves community-based Child Protection mechanisms, by providing daily activities for children in our Child Friendly Space (CFS). The CFS’ implementation model is designed to involve community members directly in ensuring that children have the resources they need to learn and grow.

Over the past months, IsraAID, thanks to the generous support from our partners, has begun to construct a new CFS, which will allow us to reach new families and children in need of support. Upon completion, this CFS will have capacity to host an average of 150 children per day, 6 days a week, for 8 hours per day. Daily programming in basic numeracy/literacy, recreational activities, sports, expressive arts, and psychosocial support will be implemented by refugee and host-community facilitators who have undergone intensive psychosocial and child protection training with IsraAID staff. In addition, the CFS will be used as an outreach hub to engage the wider community in the importance of Child Protection and advocate for education.

Currently, the building process is well underway, with the foundation set and the structures beginning to take shape. After the site was cleared of trees, bushes, and hills, the foundation’s pit was dug for the two-classroom block, as well as the latrine. The foundation and column base was set, made of concrete, and the brick for the walls is currently being laid for the classrooms. The latrine block is completed, with an iron roof. The steel casement for the doors have been fitted, and are awaiting painting, which will take place three weeks after the plaster surfaces have cured and been set. The external walls of the latrines are finished with
rough cast, to protect them from the effects of weathering. The latrines also have a gutter connection from the roof, a vent pipe to prevent bad odors, and a handwashing tank has been constructed next to the latrines.

Following a few issues with which  authorities had jurisdiction of the land (now resolved), the most significant challenge during this period was bad weather. Heavy rains slowed down the process of transporting materials to the construction site and delayed the contractor’s ability to keep up with the schedule. Although this has postponed the CFS’s launch date, the wet weather has helped to cure the CFS’s walls, which in the long term, will make the building far more durable and weather resistant.

In addition, the contractor faced some difficulty in employing a sufficient number of workers, which further slowed down the work. IsraAID staff stepped in, seeing this as an opportunity, and recruited local community members to support the process. Not only does this help speed up the process, but it also bolsters local ownership of the CFS.

Concurrent to the construction of the new CFS, IsraAID’s regional Protection team also trained the new, and existing, CFS facilitators from the refugee and host community. The training included Psychological First Aid (PFA), elements of Child  Protection, the Protection referral system, how to operate CFS and more!

Thank you for your support!!

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Carlo was leading today’s Thursday session. “I thought we’d share something about where we come from, since there are so many nationalities in the room,” he began. We worked our way around the room, introducing ourselves. Guinea, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, the United States, Germany. As we answered, Carlo mapped out each country. “I’d love to learn about where each one of you come from; are you guys interested as well?”

Three days earlier, I had arrived in Berlin to begin my six-week internship. Rather than feeling like work, my first few days were a welcome into a community of old and new friends, led by IsraAID Leadership Specialists Carlo and Anna. On Thursdays, a group of current and former participants of the IsraAID Leadership Groups Project gather at the Haus der Nachbarschaft in Schöneberg, a borough of Berlin.

We were all curious to hear about each other’s homelands. As the participants began sharing, information poured out. Two group members, from Guinea and Afghanistan, brought up the unique linguistic profiles of their nations — both feature over forty different languages! I was reminded of how languages affect the way we think and see the world. This is an ongoing debate within psychology. Some scholars consider the difference among languages to be a clear indicator that their speakers must encode different aspects of the world. Other scholars hold that while people may speak differently, they still interpret their environments in similar ways. Something that cannot be communicated via language may be expressed in other forms. IsraAID Germany has used this idea to overcome the barrier of language through workshops incorporating movement, dance, and music. These workshops are often led by program graduates, allowing them to transition from the role of participant to leader — one of the primary objectives of the Leadership Groups Project.

After the session, I reflected on how much I had learned in just a few hours. I’d read books and taken history classes on the Middle East and Africa, but it was a completely different experience listening to locals speak about their own countries. I already knew, intellectually, that I shouldn’t live in a Eurocentric bubble; but hearing stories that defied my Western framework drove home for me the importance of intercultural exposure, highlighting to me the beauty of life beyond my personal experience.

IsraAID Germany started the leadership project in different locations around the country in order to support refugees as they become integrated into the community. One of the main goals of the project is to motivate participants to aid others in their own communities and the host society through self-made projects, allowing them to realize their own strengths and the power of helping others. Through initiatives such as cooking for the homeless and visiting retirement homes, the participants begin supporting other refugees, ultimately achieving a greater impact.

Continuing the conversation in both German and English, we were able to identify our similarities while appreciating the variety and richness of each culture. When Biryani — a spicy rice dish common in South Asian cuisine — was brought up, the participant from Iran said his mouth began to water. “You can’t find real Biryani in the West!” The man continued to share about his homeland, describing the odd mix of old and new that has existed since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. We were told that upward of 70% of his social circle back home still drinks and dances privately, despite the prohibition of such activities under Sharia Law. “You can change the name of our country, but you can’t change the people,” he emphasized.

Next up was a seventeen-year-old Yazidi girl from Iraq. Although world media has publicized the genocide perpetrated against the Yazidis by ISIS, not everyone in the room had a clear understanding of who the Yazidis are. The girl admitted she was not an expert, but shared a little about her people’s religion and ethnic background. Outside of Iraq, Germany has the largest population of Yazidis in the world. For this reason, IsraAID Germany is currently working on various programs specifically aimed at supporting Yazidi survivors.

After nearly three hours of talking, we had yet to discuss Turkey, Syria, the United States, or Germany. “I have a question about the United States,” said one of the men from Guinea as we were wrapping up. “It looks like we should continue this conversation next week then, because we are all curious to learn more,” Carlo answered. Disappointed to end, I already began anticipating our next session and the promise of expanding my horizons even further alongside my new friends.

Following the mass influx of refugees to Germany in 2015, IsraAID launched “Bridges of Hope,” which aims to provide holistic long term support for refugees upon their resettlement. On top of the cultural shock, many refugees carry deep physical and emotional scars from the violence and atrocities suffered during years of conflict; the most vulnerable among them are women and unaccompanied minors. IsraAID provides sustainable support for shelters throughout Germany by working directly with refugees and affected communities. Efforts have included the set up of mobile specialist trauma units, support programs for female survivors of sexual gender-based violence (GBV), and a vocational program for women. Serena is currently attending Columbia University in New York City, New York. She is one of two IsraAID Humanitarian Fellows volunteering in Germany for summer 2019.

Thank you for your support!

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Organization Information


Location: Tel Aviv, Merkaz - Israel
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @IsraAID
Project Leader:
Tamar Lazarus
Tel Aviv, Merkaz Israel
$14,446 raised of $99,999 goal
150 donations
$85,553 to go
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