By Raefah Makki in Beirut
In the wake of violence in Syria, thousands of refugees have crossed the borders into neighbouring Jordan and Lebanon. For many, a National Society volunteer is there to meet them, assess their needs and offer assistance. And with no end to the violence in sight, the number of people fleeing from Syria - particularly to Jordan - is on the rise. For many, their only hope is to return to safety.
During a recent mission for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), we met with many people crossing the border. Many of them travelled with no belongings, but did bring their fears for the future.
To date, over 208,000 people have been registered by UNHCR in Syria’s neighbouring countries, with more than half of these being children.
Since the beginning of the crisis in Syria, National Societies in Lebanon and Jordan have mobilized teams of staff and volunteers to respond to the influx of refugees in their countries. Their complementary role in responding to the Syrian crisis has been supported by a strong coordination between the different parts of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.
Emergency teams from the Lebanese Red Cross remain on standby on the frontier to transport urgent cases from border areas to hospitals in Akkar and Tripoli.
Gracia Abboud, a volunteer from the Lebanese Red Cross in Qoubayat, is part of a team that has helped over 150 wounded Syrians since the beginning of the crisis. “I have been here since the start, It hasn’t been easy but this is what we do as the Red Cross, and we will go further,” she says. “I haven’t been home for one week, but we are used to this now, this is how our daily life has become.”
The Lebanese Red Cross teams have been saving the lives of hundreds of people through first aid treatment, evacuation, hospital transfer services, transportation and support through blood units.
Schools have been opened up to accommodate Syrian families who have no income to buy food, provisions and to meet the basic daily life needs. The Wadi Khaled area alone is host to 1,244 families. Seven per cent are living in shelters, 13 per cent in rented houses and 80 per cent are being cared for by relatives.
But whether in Lebanon or Jordan, the situation and the needs of Syrian refugees are very similar. Syrian families in Mafraq, Amman and Ajloun will struggle to pay for a roof of their heads as winter approaches.
Of course, any significant migration will have an impact on host communities too. The existing pressures in several parts of Jordan are affecting the refugees’ situation. High rent, water shortages and economic pressure in these areas are key challenges.
In response to these needs and the increased activities of the Jordan National Red Crescent Society, the IFRC has launched a regional Population Movement Preliminary Emergency Appeal to increase its support to society’s response activities.
Through this, IFRC and National Society are carrying out joint indepth community and household assessments to gauge the possibility of cash assistance to vulnerable Syrian families. Plans also include the distribution of 25,000 blankets for winter months, as well as mattresses and kitchen sets. Contingency emergency stock for 1,000 families will be provided for immediate mobilization as required. This includes kitchen sets, blankets, mattresses, tents and stoves.
Red Crescent branches across the country have been improving the lives of thousands of families in Jordan through their relief work, social and psycho social support programs.
“Jordan is a safe and secure country, and the endless Jordanian peoples’ hospitality makes it the number one destination for many people in this region,” says Dr. Mohammed Al-Hadid, President of Jordan National Red Crescent Society. “We have helped 11,634 Syrian families and will continue doing so with the resources we have, but more resources are needed to respond to increasing needs”, he says.
The Jordan National Red Crescent Society has been supporting Syrian families living in host communities in Jordan through food, and non food items. Contributions to this effort have come from partners from the Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait Red Crescent Society, Saudi Arabian Red Crescent Society and other local and international organisations. The organization has distributed 53,309 food parcels to Syrian families and 15,500 non-food items with support from IFRC, ICRC and the Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates, while Qatar Red Crescent Society is providing medical support.