Syrian Aid Report


Following considerable difficulties and appalling tragedy, Bootle Refugee Aid’s mission to relieve civilian suffering, within Syrian refugee camps inside Lebanon, has now been finally and very successfully concluded

Ambulance makes it to Aarsal, 2014 08 11, 2Once the ship’s container, filled with humanitarian aid – jointly donated by both BRACUK and Edinburgh Direct Aid – had arrived in Beirut and cleared customs, Joan – our Chairperson – made immediate arrangements to fly over and distribute the aid personally. This has always been the hallmark of our charity with, of course, Joan paying for all her own travelling expenses: 100% of all donations to Bootle Refugee Aid go directly towards supporting those for whom they are intended.

On August 3rd, Joan – accompanied by David Reekes from Edinburgh Direct Aid – travelled to Heathrow, expecting to board the flight to Beirut. While standing in line for check in, Joan became ill. Although now fully recovered, neither Joan nor David flew to Beirut which left Maggie, (from EDA), on the ground in Lebanon to distribute both charity’s aid on her own.

Very fortuitously our aid had arrived at exactly the moment when it was needed the most. Arsaal Refugee Camp, on the Syrian border, had been caught in the conflict between two opposing factions. Many of the tents in this supposedly safe refuge were completely destroyed.

Firstly Maggie took flour, and bought food, donated by Edinburgh Direct Aid to the camp’s survivors. The following is an extract from her report. Please, I urge you to be a part of this quote – to see and feel beyond the words, to be there and to know that this is – truly – life for many.

‘At the first camp I met a young father. Both his babies had died in the fires caused by the shelling from the Lebanese army. What to say to that!
It must have been a total conflagration. So many tents packed closely together. There would be no chance of stopping the fire and little chance for a number of people to escape, especially children. Rescuers had already pulled out 30 bodies from these ashes.
I just can’t imagine the scene – actually I’d rather not try to imagine the scene.
At the second camp we were mobbed by desperate refugees.Not Gaza - Aarsal, 2014 08 11
70 families were living, actually surviving in 9 remaining tents. They had no mattresses, no blankets no clothes and no food. It was impossible not to DO something.
I had some money so EDA sent in 3 water trucks and delivered bread for around 600 people. We took the bread in Al’s car – we had bread stuffed in all corners of the vehicle and when we went back to deliver it, it was like we were delivering handfuls of gold.’

And, another extract from one of Maggie’s emails home.

‘The longer I’m here the more I realise what a terrible few days and nights it must have been. One of the Syrian team, Obidaa the medic, heard and saw people screaming for rescue from one of the burning camps just below the storeroom but he couldn’t help them. The gunfire was too fierce. I think he’s very scarred by that one particular night. He’s such a gentle, sensitive chap.’

As I’m writing this report – safe in a British home – I find it almost impossible to imagine the intensity of fear, desperation, pain, grief and hopelessness felt by so many of our fellow human beings.

Fortunately, following this – what words could I possibly use to describe the burning alive of babies – indescribable suffering, Maggie was able to distribute EDA’s aid and, on behalf of the deeply frustrated Joan who couldn’t be with her, the aid and ambulance donated by Bootle Refugee Aid.

I think that Maggie’s entire email to Joan should be printed here. It tells, in detail, of what happened to the aid which countless Cumbrians, and others, so kindly and willingly gave.
‘Dear Joan
Thanks for your emails and sorry for the late reply but I’ve been staying up in Arsal at night because there has been so much to do and travelling wastes time.
Firstly the medical equipment – Defib and ECG machine.
I told you that the container is no longer a clinic but both those items were needed by the big Syrian clinic in Arsal and I think by now that you have seen the pictures of Doctor Kasim being presented with them next to the ambulance.
I pointed out to Dr Kasim the writing on the side of the ambulance to make sure that he knew this was a joint effort and that BRACUK had supplied this medical equipment.
If you look at the pictures below the baby clothes are being distributed both at a clinic in Baalbeck and at one of the burned out refugee camps in Arsal. It was very difficult to get pictures on my camera at the camp but there were others taken so maybe I can get them in due course.
In Baalbeck it was possible to emphasise this donation from BRACUK but not possible to the people in Arsal because the situation made that too difficult as I’m sure you can imagine. These were desperate people.
Your medicine/ dressings donation caused huge delight to the medic Obidaa who received these boxes.
This Syrian medic goes around the camps treating wounded and sick people who simply can’t reach the hospital. We hope now the ambulance will make a big difference to these cases. The Medic does a fantastic job – I’ve often been in the camps with him but he had very limited supplies – now he has much more of what he needs. It was this medic that sent in the original needs list not Mohamad.
The ambulance was received with great excitement and delight by the hospital in Arsal. They have appointed a driver who is now practising the left hand drive gears!
Gradually now the aid supplies are starting to come into Arsal and soon some tents will arrive. The agencies have been very slow because of the security situation and even now they don’t have actual staff on the ground.
Most of the big NGO’s will leave the delivery and distribution to Dar al Fatwa.
So thank you once again Joan for sending in this valuable supply of goods.
They have been what’s needed for these unfortunate refugees at a very bad time.

BRACUK distribution at partially burnt campEDA and BRACUK’s joint aid effort was the first NGO support to visit Arsaal Refugee Camp following the burning of the tents. We were able to deliver essential food, clothing, supplies of many kinds and – perhaps most importantly – medical aid too.

BRACUK is only a small charity, not geared up for promoting itself with fund raising campaigns. We receive relatively little but use it really very effectively. Joan and her team are now looking at supplying Obidaa, the medic, with essential medical supplies so that he can continue to do his rounds of the camps and treat those unable to travel to hospital. We’ll be buying these medical supplies very cheaply and despatching them – as cheaply as airlines will allow for a charity shipment – by air cargo. If you can help, as always, please donate what you feel able by using our donations box on this website. Be assured that, as always, your money – 100% of it – will be used only to buy and send medical supplies to refugees who have already lost so much and yet need our help now more than ever.

Please share this report with others and thank you: Thank you for reading this, for donating, for thinking of refugees in Lebanon and for doing any small kindness which – in whatever way – reaches out across the miles to support another human being in distress.