SHINING A SPOTLIGHT
Today, June 20, is World Refugee Day – a day to mark the courage and plight of millions of refugees around the world.
ShelterBox is working with refugees around the world, helping families to recover from the trauma of conflict and find safety in shelter.
We’re currently responding to refugee crises in the Syrian region, Iraq, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
A ShelterBox Response Team will also soon be travelling to Bidi Bidi camp in Uganda. Bidi Bidi is the world’s largest refugee camp and is home to around 800,000 people – many of whom have fled from conflict in neighbouring South Sudan.
We work hard to understand the needs of families affected by all sorts of different and complex emergency situations. We’ve created a flexible range of aid that includes tools, tents, tarpaulins, solar lights and other equipment for families to make urgent shelter or repair buildings where there is no other possible provision.
Our aid can be used to create a temporary base in communities or refugee camps, but it can also be portable for people moving from one place to the next.
LAKE CHAD BASIN
Violent conflict, caused by the militant extremist group Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria, has been raging since 2009.
The violence has since spread to the neighbouring border regions of Cameroon, Niger and Chad, directly affecting around 17 million people.
Many of these people have been forced to flee their homes, and often their own countries.
The Chad Basin region is under constant strain, as it is home to many of the poorest communities in the world. Extreme weather and drought batter basic shelters and force people to move due to the scarcity of food and water.
We’ve been working in the region for the past three years, providing shelter and essential aid items to families in Niger and Cameroon. This year, we have also started to support families in Chad too.
We’re working hard with partners across the whole Lake Chad Basin, delivering SchoolBoxes, tents, tarpaulins, tools, solar lights and equipment as well as hygiene kits to people living in violent, inhumane and unhealthy conditions.
To date, we’ve supported more than 25,000 people, and aim to have helped at least 56,000 by the end of the year.
CHAD IN FOCUS
Ayeasia Macintyre, ShelterBox Operations Coordinator, is part of the team who coordinates the provision of aid to the Chad Basin region.
‘Chad is the most under-served country in the Basin when it comes to humanitarian assistance. Many people there have escaped violence from Boko Haram, like others across Cameroon and Niger.
‘We’re seeing people who are so disadvantaged they don’t even have the choice of becoming refugees. If you don’t know where to go, and you’ve got no money to pay someone to take you out of a situation, then you have to stay where you are.
‘We’re currently distributing nearly 2,000 locally sourced ShelterKits in Chad, with the help of our partner International Cooperation Action for Humanitarian & Development Assistance (ICAHD). We’re also working with them to train local carpenters to build permanent wooden shelters, which offers a more sustainable solution.’
SYRIA AND IRAQ
The Syrian crisis began as a peaceful protest against the government in 2011. Six years on it has become a complex civil war that has caused more than 13 million people to flee their homes.
Around 5 million of these people have sought refuge in the neighbouring countries of Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey.
We’ve been supporting families caught up in the chaos of the conflict for more than five years.
As well as helping people in Jordan, Lebanon and families transiting through Greece on their way to find safety, we are currently focusing our efforts on people within Iraq.
We are providing shelter to people who fled their homes with nothing, as well as supplementing supplies to make temporary shelters stronger, safer and more comfortable. We are also providing essential household items, such as water filters and solar lights.
Syrian Region In Focus
Alice Jefferson, ShelterBox Operation Team Lead, is part of the team that coordinates the distribution of aid into the Syrian region.
‘As forces continue their fight against Islamic State, thousands of families, just like yours, are put at risk every day.
‘Working in any war zone is extremely dangerous but security concerns, and the need to protect our people and partners in Syria, means that we can’t discuss the details of our work.
‘Over the years, we’ve supported around 150,000 people across the region with a range of aid including ShelterBoxes and ShelterKits full of essential items to provide people with a comfortable home. We’ve even supplied SchoolBoxes filled with materials to help teachers carry out lessons in even the most basic of surroundings.
‘Our work will continue there as long as we are needed. Our main focus over the last month has been to support families in informal camps scattered around the countryside, and to prepare for the anticipated displacement from war-torn cities.’