Kiwi calls for help in Syrian refugee crisis
Author: Keith Ramsay
A Kiwi working for TEAR Fund’s partner in Lebanon is calling for his fellow New Zealanders to help deal with huge numbers of refugees pouring into Lebanon as the Syrian conflict intensifies. TEAR Fund has launched an appeal to help victims of the conflict in Syria.
Medair, a TEAR Fund partner, is working in the Bekaa Valley, on the Syrian border, about 40kms from Damascus, helping to improve the living conditions of the refugees. Medair communications officer Andrew Robinson, a former TEAR Fund NZ employee, says Lebanon is overwhelmed by the refugee crisis as thousands of refugees flow over the border every week. There are about 250,000 registered refugees in Lebanon and that number is growing, he says.
During the two-year conflict, more than 60,000 people have lost their lives so far; many of them have been civilians. Mr Robinson says January saw the biggest influx since the conflict began, highlighting the growing humanitarian crisis. “These people come with nothing; they are living on wasteland in shelters made from bits of plastic. There was heavy snowfall early in January and now the rain has come. The refugees are enduring below-freezing conditions.”
Mr Robinson says, as he wanders among the refugees, there is just so much need. “All they want to do is to go home.” Mr Robinson says many families have generously taken refugees into their own homes but now there is no more room. “My plea to my fellow Kiwis is that they take notice, even if the conflict seems so far away, and step-up to help as I have seen them do so often and so generously in the past.”
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