ReliefAid Press Release: Aid agencies in the firing line

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Aid agencies in the firing line – Shelter kits distributed in Aleppo City, Syria by Kiwi humanitarian organisation ReliefAid just ahead of an air strike on their offices. ReliefAid worker speaks from inside the city – ‘People who will not die from bombing will start to starve’

Aid Worker in the firing line

Just as the distribution of aid to over 9000 people in Aleppo had finished, the offices of New Zealand humanitarian organisation ReliefAid were wrecked by an air strike. Working in one of the most dangerous places on earth, Aleppo’s aid workers say that time is fast running out.

Moving words from an aid worker trapped in the unfolding horror of Aleppo – a city bomb-strewn and besieged. Farid (name changed for security reasons) talks to us directly from the east of the city, and the scene of an air strike on their Aleppo HQ. Aid Worker in the firing line

Farid says, ‘Just an hour before starting a new work day, the building next to our office get air strike. Thanks God the damage is in the infrastructure, and we move the equipment to a safe place and suspended the work to ensure the safety of the team members.’

‘Actually we get used to air strikes, bombs and everything in our neighbourhoods, and all of the city. But now the situation is so different. Our work is the only reason to stay in Aleppo and take all the risk. We help our people, we bring clean water to them, we bring blankets too warm them, we bring solar lamps. This is our people, and the reason we stay in Aleppo. But now we are disappointed and shocked.’ 

The image of this dazed and bloodied young boy in the back of an ambulance in Aleppo has highlighted the plight of the city and its citizens. His situation highlights the sad reality that little progress is being made in resolving the crisis with children and families ultimately paying the price.

With few aid organisations able or willing to operate in what is now the most dangerous city in the world, New Zealand humanitarian organisation in partnership with UK charity ShelterBox has provided shelter aid to over 24,500 families in Aleppo. The kits they provide to families are a mix of life-saving essentials including water purification equipment, jerry cans, mats, solar lamps, tarpaulins, mosquito nets and kitchen sets.

The UN has insisted that only 48 hour ceasefires will allow aid to flow again into the surrounded city, which is now mostly without clean water, electricity, fuel for generators or vehicles, with food supplies dwindling and unaffordable. The United Nations children’s agency warned that children are at ‘grave risk of disease’ unless water supplies are immediately repaired.

Healthcare provision is also shattered, with Aleppo doctor Hamza Al-Khatib telling BBC that it is ‘a nightmare for medics and for patients.’ Last week there were reports of a barrel bomb explosion releasing toxic chlorine gas.

Just before the air strike on ReliefAid’s offices Farid reported, ‘I couldn’t leave my home for four days because the bombing gets so heavy on my neighbourhood. I couldn’t even leave to get any food or water. My situation is similar to 300,000 other people who live in Aleppo, 19,000 of them children under 2 years.’

‘So many families rely on humanitarian aid, they have no money, and after the (Castello) road closed they have nothing to eat. The security situation is so bad, and the bombing is so heavy. People who will not die from bombing they will start to starve, they will drink unclean water, they will die from lack of medicine and healthcare.’  

Just ahead of the air strike Executive Director of ReliefAid, Mike Seawright, who is currently on the Syrian-Turkish border reported good news about the last shipment of aid to arrive in the city. ‘I am pleased to announce that we have completed the distribution of the remaining shelter kits to families with special needs within the city. As such all of our aid is now in the hands of over 9000 people living within the city.’

‘It has been a challenging time for our team but I am proud to say they have managed the situation well, in what have been very difficult circumstances. Families continue to experience acute needs within the city, and we stand ready to assist those in dire need.’

ReliefAid’s brave team has been distributing shelter kits in Aleppo over the last six months – a total of 4,000 shelter kits, supporting over 24,500 people have been distributed and more are planned in the future.



Aid Worker in the firing line

  • This audio file is an edit of exclusive reports by Farid from inside Aleppo, and can be broadcast or posted online in the context of this press release. Its content is © ReliefAid and ShelterBox
  • Photos above, showing aid distribution within the last week in Aleppo, can be used in the context of this press release © ReliefAid and ShelterBox
  • Comms and security issues mean we cannot offer interviews with ReliefAid workers in Aleppo, but it is possible to connect with Mike Seawright, ReliefAid’s Executive Director, ([email protected], skype: mike.seawright, +64 21 0363695) currently overseeing operations from Turkey.


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