The war in Syria is the biggest humanitarian catastrophe of our times. The degrading conditions in Aleppo are the symbol of that. The statistics are appalling: over one million children are in urgent need of enough and healthy food; a large number of these children are severely undernourished. Hundreds of thousands pregnant women have insufficient food and are very worried about the health of their unborn children because of that. Twelve million people are uprooted; they are fleeing the violence both within and outside Syria.
Ever since the conflict in Syria started, Terre des Homes Netherlands has provided humanitarian aid to victims of the violence. In Syria, the emphasis is on providing aid to children and to vulnerable families with children. Because millions of Syrians have taken flight, Terre des Hommes Netherlands mainly supports refugees. "There is a great shortage of everything, the situation is very grave indeed", reports Bruno Neri, the humanitarian aid coordinator for the Middle East, from Damascus. "The people are trapped, not just in Eastern Aleppo, but also in other regions. People are hungry, they need medical aid. And we need to start preparing for the approaching winter as well."
The battlefield in Syria is chaotic, with many different warring parties. As a humanitarian organisation Terre des Hommes Netherlands does not take sides in the conflict and helps where it can and whoever needs it, Bruno explains. "The only side we take, is the children's side. The children suffer seriously because of this war. We need to help them: we cannot sit and do nothing. No child should go to bed on an empty stomach."
Terre des Hommes Netherlands is mainly active in and around the cities of Latakia, Tartous, As-Suwayda, Homs, Damascus (city) and Rural Damascus (the province) and in Aleppo, in the part which is not under siege. As you may have heard on the news or read in the papers, it is hard to impossible to provide humanitarian aid in many parts of Syria. Such as in Eastern Aleppo. We can only provide humanitarian aid in these areas during cease-fire. That aid stands ready. But the millions of refugees mainly fled to areas which are relatively safe, scattered across the country. This means that millions of people actually can be reached with humanitarian aid and support.
As well as activities with respect to child protection (see below), Terre des Hommes Netherlands also distributes food aid packages. These are distributed to selected families. Food aid packages contain staple food items, such as rice, oil and beans, on which a family can survive for six to eight weeks. In August, Terre des Hommes Netherlands has distributed over 15,000 food aid packages in Qatana, Homs, Damascus and Aleppo (the part which is not under siege, to refugees from the Eastern part of the city which is under siege). This reached a total of over 90,000 people. In September also over 15,000 food aid packages were distributed, in Damascus, Homs, Tartous and Aleppo.
A distribution of 14,000 food aid packages is planned for October and preparations for distribution of almost 45,000 food aid packages in December are in full swing. In order to achieve this, further funds are desperately needed. In the city of Homs, Terre des Hommes Netherlands has started a project to prevent malnourishment in children and pregnant women.
Terre des Hommes also offers shelter and help to children in child-friendly spaces. These are safe places to play and, if necessary, express and come to terms with all they have been through with the help of professional support. Through these child-friendly spaces Terre des Hommes Netherlands also offers support to the parents. For instance, Terre des Hommes Netherlands provides not only information about hygiene and nutrition, but also about child marriage and domestic violence, with the aim of preventing these phenomena.
The humanitarian needs in Syria are of such magnitude, that much more funds are needed for helping more people. The funds Terre des Hommes Netherlands raises with this fundraising event, will benefit the food aid for Syrian refugees within Syria.
Furthermore, a part of the other humanitarian aid activities of Terre des Hommes Netherlands in Syria are financed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For these activities, Terre des Hommes Netherlands cooperates with ten other humanitarian NGO's within the Dutch Relief Alliance.