The humanitarian response in north-west Syria has received a crucial injection of funding by the Scottish Government whose support will help Islamic Relief to reach more than 6,000 displaced civilians ahead of the coming winter months.

The £100,000 funding boost comes from the Scottish Humanitarian Emergency Fund and will go toward purchasing essentials like blankets and mattresses that will help families who have had to flee their homes due to the fighting that ticks on in Idlib.

Vulnerable families, including those with pregnant women or those headed by children or the elderly, will also be given vouchers to pay for other essentials while also supporting the fragile local economy.

The money has been granted to the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) with Islamic Relief delivering the programmes on the ground. It comes just ahead of the freezing winter months when temperatures readily drop below freezing and bitter storms make life in makeshift tents and bombed out buildings with no windows and doors all but unberable.

Najat Elhamri, Head of Middle East and North Africa region for Islamic Relief Worldwide said:

“This support is desperately needed and will be a lifeline to families who have recently had to leave their homes due to intense fighting in northwest Syria. Many of these families have already moved multiple times following attacks in different locations and have had to leave their belongings behind when escaping.

“The conditions for those fleeing are simply horrifying – 1.3 million people who have been displaced are now living in an increasingly small part of the country where conditions are overcrowded and resources stretched thin.

“This is an area with very cold climate during the winter months and through this project we will be able to support over 6,000 people with items to help them survive the bitter weather.”

Islamic Relief is one of the largest international aid organisations still operating inside Idlib where we support some 30 medical facilities, deliver food and water to those in need and provide shelter and basic services to the displaced.

While media headlines are focused on the escalation on the border, three million people remain trapped in Idlib, where they are living in often horrifying and dangerous conditions.

Some 1.3 million internally displaced people in the area are in need of assistance and more than half of these have been displaced again recently in the last six months. Many of the families have been displaced again and again as the fighting has edged nearer and schools, hospitals and homes destroyed.

International Development Minister Ben Macpherson said:

“The recent conflict in north-west Syria has inflicted untold suffering on hundreds of thousands of people, compounding the misery caused by over eight years of civil war.

“At times such as these it is vital that the Scottish Government fulfils its role as a good global citizen. The Humanitarian Emergency Fund will provide essential aid to those in desperate need.”

It is hoped that through the Scottish Humanitarian Emergency Fund supported programmes, Islamic Relief and SCIAF will be able to reach more than 45,000 people.

In 2018, Islamic Relief Worldwide helped more that 1.3 million Syrians inside the conflict-ravaged country as well as thousands of Syrians who have fled to neighbouring Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon.

SCIAF Chief Executive, Alistair Dutton, said:

“As this devastating conflict in Syria continues, innocent civilians desperately need help. To make matters worse, a bitterly cold winter is fast approaching and many families are living out in the open or in derelict buildings". “This money from the Scottish Government will bolster our response to the crisis and help over 6,000 people in Idlib and Aleppo. Working closely with Islamic Relief and our sister agency CAFOD, this emergency support will make a major difference to many women, men and children whose lives are being torn apart by this awful war.”

To date, the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Syria remains only 36% funded.

By NO Comment 29th October 2019

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