Haiti offers a lesson of solidarity with Syria

Published: 26 February 2014 14:59 CET


Gennike Mayers, IFRC, Port-au-Prince- Haiti

“We simply wanted to help. And I think it’s just extraordinary that we were able to do so with the assistance of the Haitian Red Cross which will be able to channel these funds to the Red Crescent in Syria.”

These were the words of the Honorary Consul of the Syrian Arab Republic in Haiti, Hatem Farah, while handing over a cheque for the sum of 15,000 US dollars to the Haitian Red Cross on Tuesday 18th February at the Consulate located in Delmas 83, a busy commercial district of Port-au-Prince.  This donation is the fruit of a fundraising event recently organised by the Syrian Arab community in Haiti.

According to the Consulate’s register, the Syrian Arab community stands at 200 persons of whom roughly 170 are from Syria and 30 were born on Haitian soil to Syrian parents. Arriving in Haiti mainly as petty traders from 1880 onwards, the majority of descendants of these immigrant families today own well established businesses in the capital Port-au-Prince. Over the years, this community has woven itself into the Haitian socio-economic fabric while maintaining family and commercial ties with Syria.

Moved by the tragic stories emerging out of the civil conflict in Syria, members of the Syrian Arab community in Haiti, represented by the Honorary Consul, opted to organise a charity event in favour of the needy and victims of the armed conflict which has severely affected the country for the past three years.  

“We decided to make a charitable donation through the Haitian Red Cross because we know that the Red Cross network is transparent and that our donation will arrive in Syria,” explained the Honorary Consul. The total sum of the donation will be channelled to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent via wire transfer.

Dr. Guiteau Jean-Pierre, President of the Haitian Red Cross society accepted the donation with much gratitude, “The Haitian Red Cross society is very touched by this gesture of the Syrian Arab community of Haiti. It is an opportunity for us to express the depth of our emotion and our sincere sympathy with the volunteers of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent whose lives are constantly threatened  while providing humanitarian assistance to those in need.”

According to the Honorary Consul, this donation is the first of  many to come. “We are in the process of planning another fundraising event, which will be even bigger. I wish to thank the Syrian Arab community  here in Haiti, as well as our Haitian friends and those from overseas whose participation has made it possible for us to offer assistance to the victims of the war in Syria.”  

Many members of the Syrian Arab community have relatives and friends still in Syria. The Honorary Consul explained, “Those who have family in Haiti have come here, and others who have family or friends elsewhere have gone elsewhere. The elders are still in Syria but the younger ones are those who are coming to Haiti in search of a better life, to escape the war.”

Three months ago, 26 volunteers of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent were struck by bullets and more recently, a fellow counterpart was wounded while delivering humanitarian aid in the city of Homs. In spite of the difficult conditions and these attacks which have affected volunteers, they continue to offer humanitarian assistance to those most in need.  

“We are with them in spirit even as we hold them in our heart. We extend our gratitude to the Syrian Arab community in Haiti for this gesture. On our end we will continue, along with other Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies, to mobilise the power of humanity for the joy of the Syrian people”, said Dr. Jean-Pierre.

Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar, President of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent society expressed his gratitude, “In the name of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and its volunteers, I would like to thank the Syrian community in Haiti for their generous donation and support to us. This kind of support from abroad gives more motivation to our volunteers and staff, and it makes them feel appreciated and recognized by the Syrian community abroad.” He added, “This helps us in fulfilling our mission to help the most vulnerable and all those in need during these difficult times. Thank you again for your support.”