As a tragic milestone in the Syrian conflict is reached, disaster relief charity ShelterBox calls on all parties to prioritise the civilians of Syria, by ceasing hostilities, maintaining humanitarian access for aid – and ultimately finding a path to peace.
On 15 March 2011, the popular uprising of the Arab Spring reached Syria. Peaceful protests soon escalated into brutal conflict as government and opposition forces clashed. 10 years later, the conflict has shifted into a seemingly unsolvable regional crisis, leaving a country scarred by terror and instability.
Every child under 10 in Syria has known nothing but war. Imagine every child in UK primary schools having no memories of their home country at peace.
An estimated 12.3 million people have been displaced by the conflict, around 6.7million within Syria itself. The need for emergency shelter supplies remains, as families are forced from their homes by renewed conflict, and existing shelters need repair after years of use.
Financial crisis, harsh winters and coronavirus threat compound misery for millions
With major offensives no longer dominating the news, and the political stalemate creating an uncertain future, millions of displaced Syrians still face crises that threaten any fragile stability in their daily lives. Brutal winters, floods that wash away shelters, a deepening financial crisis, and the new threat of coronavirus – all of these create yet more challenges to overcome.
ShelterBox in Syria
The Syrian crisis has been ShelterBox’s largest and most sustained response in the charity’s 21-year history. Since 2012 ShelterBox has provided emergency shelter and household essentials to around 400,000 people (80,000 families), both within Syria, in countries hosting refugees from the conflict, and wider conflict in Iraq.
In its response to date, ShelterBox and its partners have provided families with over 20,000 tents, 175,000 blankets, and 58,000 solar lights (enough to provide around 580 million hours of light).
ShelterBox Chief Executive Sanj Srikanthan, who previously worked in Syria for the International Rescue Committee, said:
‘When I first started working in Syria in 2012, we thought the conflict might continue for 1-2 years. It has now grown into a complex and protracted series of humanitarian crises hitting a weary population with diminishing resources to survive.
‘There is no clear frontline in this war. It’s a fractured conflict with multiple parties, united only by their divisiveness. Civilians are caught in the middle of shifting power dynamics and territories, not knowing where will be safe for them and their families and made homeless many times over as a result.
‘After 9 years supporting people through this crisis, ShelterBox is able to respond swiftly and effectively because, sadly, we have to plan for the worst – whether that’s an increase in conflict or an emerging threat like coronavirus. After supporting families through yet another harsh winter, we remain ready to respond to new waves of displacement – ever hopeful for a future where we’re no longer needed in Syria.’
Nour is a humanitarian working with ShelterBox’s partner ReliefAid in northwest Syria. He reflected on his experiences since the beginning of the conflict:
‘Ten years ago, I was a student in the Faculty of Economics at the University of Aleppo. That was a special time in my life. I expected to work in a bank after I graduated from university.
‘My life has changed dramatically – it’s difficult for me to see my city destroyed by the violent bombing, innocent people dying every moment.
‘I try to give myself and the people I love hope. I try to convince myself that life will continue and that the situation will improve one day – life will not always go on like this.’
For more information and the full statistics please contact the ShelterBox Media Team