Syrian Refugee Relief Fund

by GlobalGiving
Photo by KID & FAMILY
Photo by KID & FAMILY

Over the past two years, your donations to the Syrian Refugee Relief Fund have helped nonprofits on the ground in places like Greece, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey provide immediate relief to communities of refugees! Since our last report, two GlobalGiving staff members, Emily and Rachel, visited three of the projects benefitting from your donations! Today we want to share with you the impactful work our staff travelers witnessed on their trip in Greece. You can also get to know the powerful individual stories they encountered in “Tea for Refugees” here.

Their first stop was a visit to KID & FAMILY in Athens.

KID & FAMILY works to feed children and save as many lives as possible. They provide food, water, medical care, and personal essentials directly to the people as they arrive on the beaches of the islands. Emily and Rachel saw their gift shop stocked full of discounted everyday items and met with their volunteer psychologists working with children impacted psychologically by the war. You can hear more about the impact your donations are making for theses children by checking out their project reports.

Next the GlobalGiving team went to the Emfasis Foundation and were astounded by the compassion the foundation is showing the refugee community.

Emfasis focuses on allowing vulnerable refugee communities become independent. Their goal is to empower, coach, mentor, and provide resources to these people through a street outreach program targeting areas that may otherwise be overlooked. Emfasis’ current project focuses on healing through photography. You can learn more about their innovative programs and impact on their project page.

Finally, Emily and Rachel traveled to Risona, Greece and visited Echo100plus. 

Echo100plus mission is to provide everyday needs to refugees living in the camps. Our staff was able to see their work first hand in a camp that is home to 180 families. When a refugee arrives to the camp, Echo100plus provides a welcome packet that explains the layout of the camp, the hours of the meals, and when distributions for supplies occur. They are also provided with a tent, clothing, cooking utensils, and hygienic products. To learn more about how your are making an impact on families in the camp check out their project page.

Tea for Refugees” brings to life further how your donations are impacting those most greatly affected by the crisis. Thank you for your generosity and kindness!

Photo by Emphasis
Photo by Emphasis
Photo by Echo100plus
Photo by Echo100plus
Photo by Days for Girls
Photo by Days for Girls

Since 2011, more than 4 million Syrians have fled to countries like Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. Millions more are displaced inside Syria. The situation within the country doesn’t seem to be improving, but your donations are helping to make the lives of refugee families a little easier.

Last week, your donation supported 16 organizations in their efforts to support refugees in Lebanon, Greece, Jordan, Turkey, Germany, Serbia and Iraq. Read more about the grants made below:

  • 3 Generations: To finish a feature film that follows four Syrian refugees displaced in Lebanon, as well as related short films.
  • Bridge to Turkiye Fund: To support education needs for Syrian refugee children aged 3-6 in Urfa, Turkey through production, distribution, and delivery of skill- development-focused education kits.
  • Circle of Health International: To support clinical volunteers, stock COHI's mobile pharmacy, and cover maintenance costs for the mobile clinic.
  • Community Foundation Cologne: To support the reFOODgees project, which connects refugees to each other and their community through cooking and sharing food.
  • Concern Worldwide: To map the existing services available to Syrian refugees in Turkey through the government, create a referral network to help people access these services, and expand an existing fund that fills gaps in services through e-vouchers or in-kind support.
  • Days for Girls International: To set up a sewing cooperative for Syrian refugee women in Lebanon.
  • Do Your Part: To provide supplies including seeds, cabinets, classroom tables, and cots in the Oinofyta refugee camp in Greece.
  • INSAN Association: To provide education and psychosocial support for Syrian refugees in one school and in three refugee camps.
  • International Humanistic Psychology Association: To support psychosocial care for refugees in Germany.
  • IsraAID: To support psychosocial care for refugees in Greece.
  • Middle East Children's Alliance: To cover the cost of sending a 40-foot container of donated medical supplies to Lebanon.
  • Near East Foundation: To help Syrian refugees achieve economic self-sufficiency and resilience in Jordan and Lebanon.
  • Open Learning Exchange:. To provide Arabic content and teachers on literacy, numeracy, and ESL in a library for Syrian refugee girls.
  • Pomoc deci: To provide psychosocial support and basic humanitarian aid to refugee children and their parents in camps in Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, and Turkey.
  • RED International: To support food and hygiene kit distributions to Syrian refugees and internally displaced people in Iraq.
  • Refugees International Japan: To provide preschool education to 110 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon.


We’ll update you in the coming months on the positive change these organizations are having on the lives of refugees in Europe and the Middle East.  Thank you for doing your part to make the world a better place!

Photo by Bridge to Turkiye
Photo by Bridge to Turkiye
Photo by Near East Foundation
Photo by Near East Foundation
A view of the Syria-Turkey border
A view of the Syria-Turkey border

Today, on World Refugee Day, we are witnessing the worst refugee crisis since World War II. When GlobalGiving created this relief fund in 2013, we couldn’t foresee that it would be even more necessary today, three years after its launch, than it was back then. There are currently more than 4.5 million Syrian refugees living in just five countries: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt. While they hope to return to their homes in Syria, it doesn’t look like the political situation will change anytime soon, and the families you’ve supported are now faced with the reality that their current situation is likely to be the new normal for the foreseeable future.

I recently traveled to Turkey and Greece to visit some of the projects that you have been so instrumental in supporting. In Turkey, I met with two local organizations supported by Bridge to TurkiyeYUVA and SKYGD—which both focused on refugees’ profound need for access to education. Currently, only one in three Syrian refugee children is attending a school of any kind. The rest face language barriers and pressure to work to support families that have few means of supporting themselves. Bridge to Turkiye’s partners are working to provide education for children and vocational and language classes for adults new to their country.

In southeastern Turkey, I had the opportunity to visit refugee families living outside of formal camps in the city of Sanliurfa. Many of these families live so close to Syria that they can see their former homes in Kobani just over the border. One family invited me into their home. The father, Abdo, proudly pulled out a stack of academic accolades his daughters had earned back in their home in Aleppo. Two of his daughters, Eva in 9th grade and Hewa in 11th grade, explained what honors each of the certificates gave them. The largest one was awarded to Eva for being the top student in her class. Abdo explained that if he had one hope it would be that his children would have access to higher education, but the family’s current situation makes him feel hopeless. This family is living outside of the refugee camps. Despite the hardships that entails—if they lived in a camp they would be provided with free food, shelter, and healthcare— the family chooses to live in a nearby town where they have more freedom and life seems somewhat closer to normal. Concern Worldwide provides the family with a small stipend (about $15 per person) each month to help cover the necessities. They receive no other support.

Just north of Athens, I visited the Oinofyta camp run by the Greek Air Force. The camp currently houses just over 100 people and your donations have allowed Do Your Part to help provide healthcare to its residents and build classrooms, a sewing room, and gardens in the camp.

I also traveled to the northern border of Greece where I visited several informal refugee camps—groups of people from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq who set up tents wherever they can. Two of the camps I visited were in gas station parking lots less than five minutes from the Macedonian border. “People like it here because there is access to water and they can buy things in the gas station shop,” my host explained to me. The rest were set up along the side of the road wherever there was available land. People were hopeful that they would one day be able to cross the border, and eventually get farther into Europe to set up a more permanent life with their families. The government doesn’t support these informal camps, but a few nonprofit organizations, including Circle of Health International, are providing health care, food, and other services.

The need to support refugees is great, and this situation only appears to be getting increasingly dire. In order to help meet the ongoing needs in these areas, we’ll be matching donations to refugee relief projects at 50% from July 12-August 16.


 

Informal refugee camp at a gas station in Greece
Informal refugee camp at a gas station in Greece

This week marks five years since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, which has claimed more than 270,000 lives, caused 4.8 million Syrians to flee their country as refugees, and displaced 6.6 million Syrians within their own country.

While last month’s the truce between government and opposition forces provides a hope for lasting peace, Syrian refugees throughout the Middle East and Europe face an uncertain future. Refugee camps are struggling to keep up with growing numbers of migrants, and several countries have reduced the number of refugees they’re willing to take in.

Thanks to your support of this relief fund, many refugees’ prospects are considerably brighter. Today I’d like to share three stories that illustrate the impact you’ve had over the last five years through our partners on the ground.

A scene from JEN’s football tournament at the Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan

Since 2012, Japan Emergency NGO (JEN) has worked in Za’atari, Jordan’s largest refugee camp, where more than 80,000 Syrians reside. JEN has ensured access to clean water and sanitation, promoted hygiene measures to prevent disease outbreaks, and delivered supplies to help refugees weather the harsh winters.

Last fall, in an effort to promote greater collaboration and understanding among the camp’s residents, the local population, and NGOs, JEN organized a football tournament (or soccer, to our American readers). The tournament was a huge success, and in addition to fostering camaraderie, JEN used the tournament as an opportunity to distribute hygiene kits and teach daily hygiene practices to children through role playing.  

Brothers Muhamed and Mamun enjoy a snack at the Krnjaca refugee camp in Serbia

Due to changing admittance policies for asylum seekers, many Syrian families have found themselves in limbo, residing in camps in the Balkans until asylum opportunities improve elsewhere in Europe.

One such family recently arrived in a camp in Krnjaca, Serbia, just outside Belgrade, with three young children — five-year-old Muhamed, his younger brother Mamun, and their baby sister Arba. Since leaving Damascus a year ago, they’ve traveled between camps in Lebanon, Turkey, Germany, Croatia, and now Serbia in search of a safe haven.

Pomoc deci, a Serbian NGO supporting refugees in Krnjaca, welcomed them to the camp and made sure their family had necessary supplies for the winter—warm jackets and shoes, blankets, tents—and provided toys for the children and psycho-social assistance.

Araxi’s vertical garden in Bourj Hammoud, Lebanon

Food insecurity is a major issue facing many Syrian refugees. Since few are able to find employment in their host countries, they’re often wholly reliant on aid organizations in order to feed their families.

Near East Foundation (NEF) is improving this situation through cost-effective urban agriculture, and recently shared a story of their work with a woman named Araxi. She fled Syria three years ago with her family of four and now lives in Bourj Hammoud, a city outside Beirut, Lebanon. Like many of the 18,000 refugees in the city, Araxi’s family struggles to earn enough money to put food on the table in addition to paying for housing and school for her two children. With help from NEF, Araxi installed a vertical garden kit in her home and now is able to grow onions, garlic, thyme, marjoram, and mint, saving money she’d otherwise spend at the market while improving her family’s diet.

With support from more than 6,600 donors like you in 65 countries, these are just a few of the success stories you’ve helped make possible. Thank you so much for bringing hope to those in need these last five years.

 

Sincerely,
Britt Lake + the GlobalGiving Team

P.S. If you’d like to spread the word about the situation facing Syrian refugees and the vital work our partners are doing to help them, you can help by sharing this factsheet on social media.

The shore in Lesbos | Photo courtesy of IsraAID
The shore in Lesbos | Photo courtesy of IsraAID

Last week, we shared how your donations are making a difference on a large scale to help more than a dozen organizations in the Syrian Refugee Relief fund provide care to refugees. This week we wanted to give you the opportunity to meet the people, refugees and volunteers alike, whom your donations are impacting.

3,000 Refugees Arriving in Lesbos Each Day

This past year, 4.2 million refugees have fled their homes in Syria,  with hundreds of thousands seeking refuge  through the small Greek island of Lesbos.

The needs of refugees arriving vary from immediate medical aid to psychosocial support for families upon arrival. As the number of Syrian refugees arriving in Greece in 2015 started steadily rising, IsraAID quickly mobilized a team of volunteers to help on the shores. You can see a video account from Lesbos here.

Dr. Iris Adler and Melek Abu-Grara, have been on the front lines in Lesbos for months, tending to the immediate needs of refugees and bearing witness to heartbreaking tragedies and incredible miracles—sometimes both in the same day.

This past October, Abu-Grara and Dr. Adler spent a night with a grieving mother, who had lost her 8-month-old son earlier that day. Even after the long night of sorrow, they both went straight back to work in the morning; tending to the refugees arriving on rafts and boats from Turkey. Though the day started with sadness, it ended with joy as Dr. Adler and Malek assisted a Syrian woman who gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on the beach in Lesbos, hundreds of miles from her home. Alongside the IsraAID team, Dr. Adler and Abu-Grara tended to the new mother and her son, ensuring she and the newborn were safe until an ambulance arrived.

The Long Road From Syria to Serbia

2,500 kilometers: that’s how far 10-year-old Abdul walked in four months after fleeing his home and leaving his family behind in Syria to reach safety in Belgrade.

In Pomoc Deci’s latest update, Abdul recounted his journey, “My parents remained in Damascus to take care of my brothers and sisters. My father told me to go to Germany and he would find me there.”

Whether or not Adbul will be reunited with his family remains uncertain. "I'm afraid bombs might kill them. In my country is a war, it's horrible. I keep asking myself whether I would see them again. And if I get to Germany, would they manage to find me there," said Abdul.

Since arriving in Serbia, Abdul has found companionship among the older refugees, who have taken him under their wing and will be making the move towards Germany together. Even though Abdul is without his family, he has remained courageous and resilient in this time of overwhelming chaos.

As the Syrian refugee crisis worsens, stories similar to Adbul’s are becoming more and more common. Thankfully, high-impact organizations like Pomoc Deci and IsraAID are continuously working to provide the immediate aid and necessities refugees arriving in neighboring countries.

In 2015, your donations have helped courageous children like Abdul, they’ve provided new mothers with immediate medical care, and will continue to make a lasting impact into the new year. From the bottom of our hearts at GlobalGiving, we wanted say thank you, for both making a contribution and taking the time to learn about the escalating crisis in Syria.

Abdul in Serbia | Photo courtesy of Pomoc Deci
Abdul in Serbia | Photo courtesy of Pomoc Deci
 

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Organization Information

GlobalGiving

Location: Washington, D.C. - USA
Website: https:/​/​www.globalgiving.org
Project Leader:
Britt Lake
Washington, D.C. United States

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