15 January 2015
The British Red Cross is calling for funds for their Iraq and Syria Crisis appeals as refugees and displaced people suffer in tented camps and damaged buildings.
A series of snow storms, rain and freezing weather have gripped the region. Volunteers from the Syrian and Iraqi Red Crescent societies have distributed winter aid where possible, but stocks are low and many communities are still in need of blankets and other supplies.
Dr Yaseen Abbas, the president of the Iraqi Red Crescent has called for urgent help for the 2.1 million in Iraq forced from their homes by violence, with little or no defence against the painfully cold conditions. More cold temperatures are forecast in both countries.
“In Iraq, the main impact is on those living in tented camps in Dohuk and Erbil and surrounding areas. For those people, conditions are miserable. Winter is very tough, there has been snow in many areas and the impact is worse for the vulnerable - older people and children, who are more affected by the big drop in temperature. As well as displaced Iraqis, almost 250,000 Syrians are living in tented camps and being hosted by Iraqi communities, the majority in and around Dohuk. The Iraqi Red Crescent managed to distribute some winter kits two months ago, but more are needed, this is now a serious issue.”
Funds raised by the British Red Cross have helped send 20,000 winter blankets to Iraq for distribution, but many more are needed.
In Syria, despite the bad weather the Syrian Arab Red Crescent has distributed supplies but demand is outstripping supply. Plastic sheeting to shore-up damaged or unfinished buildings have been distributed in Raqqa, Homs and other places, but more communities are in need of winter aid. In Aleppo, volunteers have continued to help people cross frontlines to receive medical help through the bad weather and have distributed tarpaulins. The British Red Cross are providing basic winter kits [high-thermal blankets, mattress and mats] for 30,000 families [150,000 people] in Syria.
Julia Brothwell, British Red Cross country manager said “Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers across the whole region affected by these storms have continued to operate ambulance services and distribute vital aid, despite severe winter conditions. They are out in all weathers to support displaced and vulnerable people, but we need to make sure they have the aid to distribute. Some people have been displaced many times over – they do not have even basic things. Syrian people are used to harsh winters and at home they would have had winter clothes and blankets, but when you are displaced you don’t have these things, and your accommodation may offer little protection for people trying to survive another freezing winter.”
To donate to the British Red Cross Iraq Appeal go to:
www.redcross.org.uk/iraqcrisis or call 08450 532 003
To donate to the British Red Syria Crisis Appeal go to:
www.redcross.org.uk/syriacrisis or call 08450 547 206
Notes to editors
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