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Shelterbox tries to reach Syrian refugees
11:00am Saturday 13th October 2012 in Cornwall
Helston-based aid charity ShelterBox is attempting to reach refugees forced from their homes after a peaceful protest in Syria descended into civil war.
The conflict began in March 2011, with public demonstrations demanding the end of nearly five decades of current party rule and the resignation of the president. Initially peaceful the protest has now turned to fighting, with latest figures estimating there are 1.2 million people fleeing their homes in Syria and more than 294,000 refugees in neighbouring countries.
The escalating conflict is now hindering the efforts of aid organisations such as ShelterBox in getting help to the people in need.
ShelterBox teams are working in neighbouring Jordan and Lebanon to try and work out potential routes into Syria, as well as work out how to distribute aid to refugees that have already fled into border countries. Alice Jefferson, a 23-year-old ShelterBox response team member from Truro, has been to Beirut to assess the need for shelter of refugees in Lebanon.
She said: “It’s so important to have the boxes ready to go in. If there is any opportunity to get lots of aid out quickly it’s vital to get supplies and funds in place without a big delay.”
There are already 448 boxes with the Jordanian Red Crescent, which were originally going to be used to set up camps along the border to accommodate the influx of Syrian families into Jordan. Camps already set up, however, have been criticised over inadequate standards, leading to the government becoming wary of setting up more in the future. The charity is now working with the Jordanian Red Crescent to see if the boxes can be distributed in smaller quantities. Alice said there was some food and aid getting in, but it was “very difficult” to deliver shelter.
There are also talks about a partnership with the International Organisation for Migration in Turkey, after the Turkish government released a list of items needed including winterised tents, kitchen sets, blankets and stoves. Support from back home remains vital, to ensure the boxes are there when needed.
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