The heartbreaking image of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s body washed up on a beach has highlighted the appalling tragedy facing millions of Syrian refugee children who have fled the conflict. His death has galvanized the world to act: to give, to pray, to advocate and to get involved. World Vision’s humanitarian workers are on the frontlines doing all they can to help.
World Vision is expanding its humanitarian response to address emerging challenges, thanks to the increased funding that has come with renewed public interest in the refugee crisis.
With hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing to Europe and millions forced out of Syria into its neighbouring countries World Vision is expanding its humanitarian response to address emerging challenges, thanks to the increased funding that has come with renewed public interest in the refugee crisis.
With desperation increasing, hundreds of thousands of refugees have this year fled the violence in Syria to make the perilous crossing across the Mediterranean or via the Balkan Corridor and on into Western Europe. World Vision is now expanding its humanitarian response beyond Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, and into Serbia.
On the Serbian-Hungarian border refugee children and adults are suffering hardships on their long journey; forced to sleep outside, lacking proper sanitation and surviving on little food. World Vision’s initial response is targeted at the most vulnerable - mothers and children - providing them with basic family packs of diapers, baby cream and soap, wet wipes, toys, tooth brush and paste, disinfectant, shampoo, and female personal hygiene items.
Refugees are forced to sleep outside, lacking proper sanitation and surviving on little food.
The massive media and public interest has also reinvigorated fundraising efforts from the public allowing World Vision to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in a few days. The enormous flow of refugees over recent months has arisen because international funding for refugees living in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan is drying up, leaving refugees hungrier, poorer and more desperate than ever.
The violence in Syria is also worsening. A generation of children is now being lost to bombs and violence in Syria and an underfunded humanitarian refugee response in the neighbouring countries.
Conny Lenneberg, World Vision regional leader for the Middle East, said: “Unless governments massively increase funding for the humanitarian work in the Middle East hundreds of thousands more Syrians are likely to flee to Europe. Syrians want to remain in the region and close to home but with food rations running down, with their children not in school, and with no sign of peace on the horizon, they are left with little choice. We are here in the Middle East. The UN is here. Many other agencies are here. We are all doing good work but we simply need more funding to help.”
“Unless governments massively increase funding for the humanitarian work in the Middle East hundreds of thousands more Syrian are likely to flee to Europe."
She said the tragic death of Aylan had put the spotlight on the plight of vulnerable children just like him across the Middle East. “It’s so sad to see so many children in a similarly desperate situation. I feel for parents who are helpless in the face of their circumstances and cannot help their young ones.”
World Vision is working in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan providing water and sanitation, food, health, child protection and education assistance and since 2011 has helped two million people.
Conny continues: “We are starting new humanitarian programmes in Europe to aid the most vulnerable child refugees but we must also maintain and expand our work in the Middle East. The situation facing children is intolerable. We will lose a generation of beautiful boys and girls if we don’t rise to this challenge.”