By Erkan Aksu in Turkey
Syrians who fled conflict at home and took shelter in neighbouring countries such as Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, have been living away from their homeland for more than 18 months. It is estimated that 500,000 people have left Syria since the outbreak of violence in 2011, and while they wait for the opportunity to return, the Turkish Red Crescent Society is providing support and shelter, especially as the winter begins to deepen.
There are shelter and nutrition programmes in the tent towns in Hatay, Gaziantep, Şanlıurfa, Osmaniye, Adıyaman, Kahramanmaraş and in the container town of Kilis. But the Turkish Red Crescent is also providing psychosocial support and has established kindergartens, primary and secondary schools in each campsite. Also handicraft workshops have been set up with the result that thousands of Syrian women are painting, weaving carpets and learning new skills.
The psychosocial support programme – which is focused on women and children and includes games and show programmes – is organized to relieve the effects of trauma faced by those forced to leave their homes. Social facilities such as TV and communication centres have also been established.
For shelter, the Turkish Red Crescent Society has set up 23,000 tents in 13 camps in compliance with international standards and has contingency plans to increase the number of camps in case the needs arise.
A major winterization programme has just been launched to ensure that tents are insulated with floor and top covers and that enough blankets and heaters are distributed to families so they can be warm during the harsh winter.
The organization is also providing continued assistance to Syrian citizens living along the Turkish-Syrian border, especially in the form of food, hygiene kits and clothing.
In partnership with the World Food Programme, the organization has also launched a Red Crescent Food e-Card in five camps, which allows people living in the camps to buy food and other provision based on their own tastes and needs in markets in the towns. The card gives 80TL per person per month and the programme is likely to be expanded to include all tent and container towns in the near future. The card programme may also be extended into Yemen, again in partnership with the World Food Programme.