accessibility & help

British Red Cross launch Syria Compassion in Conflict appeal

14 March 2014

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Penny Sims 0207 877 7044 /
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The British Red Cross has launched their Syria: Compassion in Conflict appeal in response to the need for psychological and emotional support for Syrian people affected by the three years of conflict.

The appeal will support psycho-social projects within Syria working with children and adults to help people cope with the psychological impact of the crisis. Children in particular are suffering symptoms including nightmares, bed wetting, or trouble controlling emotions. Some children’s development is affected and some become withdrawn after witnessing traumatic events.

The Danish Red Cross, experts in the field of psycho-social support, report that the Syrian children they have assessed, particularly those born before the crisis began [in March 2011] were more affected than children from other conflict zones, as they were unused to violence and conflict.

Marianne From Jakobsen, co-ordinating psychologist for the Danish Red Cross, said:

“Unlike children from other conflict zones, Syrian children didn’t grow up with violence. Now they feel robbed of a life and daily routine. They have been shaken to the core.”

However, with appropriate support, the children are more able to recall their normal life from before the war and engage in play activities which help them to make sense of their experiences.

Jakobsen continues:

"Playing with other children is the best form of medicine. This is the way children heal. We want the children to trust adults again. Drawing, dancing, singing and playing can help to open up a child. Even if the child is unable to explain something, they may be able to draw it. "

Valentina Stivanello, British Red Cross Syria Crisis programme manager, said:

“This terrible conflict has caused huge emotional damage. These wounds can be just as devastating as physical injuries. We've helped meet material needs but we must do more to help with the emotional needs.  Our support will help people come to terms with what they’ve seen and how they’re feeling”.

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent have been providing psycho-social support throughout the crisis. Activities include support groups, art therapy and structured play to help identify children in need of additional help. Most recently specially trained volunteers have been present at the evacuations of Homs to provide psychological support to people brought out of the city.

This support is provided in addition to the on-going relief effort. Currently the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement are distributing aid to 2.6 million people across Syria every month. However volunteers continue to face violence as they deliver this support. The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement have issued an unprecedented joint call [insert hyperlink] for all parties to the conflict in Syria to guarantee the safety of aid workers and ensure their unimpeded access to people in need across Syria. 

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are also launching an online campaign, #REDforSyria in solidarity with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

To donate to the Syria: Compassion in Conflict appeal go to or call 0300 023 0821.


Footage, photos and interviews available please contact:

Penny Sims (, +44 207 877 7044 / 07659 145 095)

Links to photos Danish Red Cross of art by Syrian refugees

The PSP centre in Amman, Jordan
Art by Syrian refugees being helped by PSP centre in Amman, Jordan
For photos showing the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in action, go to

Notes to editors
For more information on the British Red Cross please visit: or follow us on Twitter:

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.
We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.


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