WAUK Newsletter 17/1/2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The Welfare Association website has just been redesigned, it went live on 11 December 2013, please take a look www.welfareassociation.org.uk

The end of last year and the beginning of this year have been very busy periods with ongoing crises in Gaza and the Syria Crisis continuing to impact Lebanon, with Syria Crisis refugee families sheltering throughout Lebanon in very difficult conditions. We have been managing emergency programme activities to support communities and families badly affected in both locations.

1. Gaza Flood Crisis Update

With the continued closures of the Gaza crossings and resulting escalating unemployment and goods shortages, the conditions in Gaza were already very difficult. In addition to this, due to shortages of fuel the Gaza power plant shutdown on 1st November which meant: sewage networks stopped pumping and several areas of Gaza were flooded by overflowing sewage; hospitals cut surgeries, and as power in hospital generators surged on and off critical care patients were at great risk; power cuts affected families at home and children in schools - who then used candles as an alternative light source and were without heat in winter. All of which increased the health and safety risks for families. In the context of this over the weekend of 14-15 December 2013 Gaza suffered some of the harshest weather conditions it has experienced in decades when torrential rain caused major and widespread flooding and led to thousands of families being evacuated. The Ministry of Health in Gaza declared a state of ‘extreme emergency’.

On 16th December 2013 the UN described the Gaza Strip as a 'disaster area' following the onslaught of Storm Alexa and called on the international community to lift the blockade and allow recovery efforts to proceed.

Chris Gunness of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said: "Large swathes of northern Gaza are a disaster area with water as far as the eye can see. Areas around Jabalia have become a massive lake with two meter high waters engulfing homes and stranding thousands.”

“After so many years of the Israeli blockade, the public health system in Gaza was already acutely and chronically damaged, so the man-made problems inflicted on Gaza are compounded by the extreme weather conditions."

Welfare Association and local partners in Gaza have been providing urgent support to those displaced, prioritising families most badly affected. Emergency distributions have included:Gaza_Flood_Crisis.png

-  Food parcels to 420 families
-  610 blanket packs
-  1260 warm winter clothes packages for children
-  School uniform, bag and stationary package for 495 children
-   4000 litres of fuel for hosting shelter generators

And 200 homes are being rehabilitated.

Please help us to provide urgent support to families in Gaza badly affected by these floods.

Click here to donate

2. Syria Crisis Update
HACP echo

Of the 2.3 million Syrian refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries to escape the conflict, over 800,000 refugees have entered Lebanon (as of 9th January 2014). In response to this growing humanitarian crisis, we have been implementing a number of emergency programmes. Since September 2013 we have been supporting refugee families who have newly arrived in the camps and gatherings in the Beirut area through funding received from the European Commission's Department of Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO). These families are provided with cash assistance to help them purchase items most urgently needed (e.g. food, hygiene items, bedding, mattresses, cooking equipment etc.,) items to manage the winter (blankets, winter clothing, shoes. etc.) – or even to pay monthly rent for the rooms some are living in now. It is very difficult for thousands of refugee families who are stranded in Lebanon now to make ends meet - with no income, no funds and they need to secure shelter / accommodation for their families as they don’t know what the future holds.

In addition to the above emergency programme, earlier last year we initiated an emergency programme providing essential food packages and hygiene kits and shelter rehabilitation work for some of the most vulnerable families living in very poor conditions in Ein El Helweh Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon, south Lebanon (550 families) and Beddawi Palestinian refugee camp in Tripoli, north Lebanon (250 families). Bekaa_cropped_photo.jpgThe food packages included rice, pasta, beans, lentils, canned meat, cheese, sugar, flour, milk, beans and oil, etc. The hygiene kits included soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, sanitary pads, toilet paper, and cleaning detergent. In total we were able to provide support to 4,500 individuals.

In December 2013 we were able to further expand this humanitarian relief programme to include the Bekaa Valley area of Lebanon, where hundreds of families who fled the Syria Crisis are scattered outside of formal refugee camps, in extremely bad winter weather conditions. In coordination with local partners we distributed further emergency food packages and hygiene kits to 800 vulnerable families (approximately 3,000 individuals) in December.

3. New EC Education Project

EC_Logo.pngOn 1st January 2014 we began a new two-year education project which is being funded by the European Commission. This project aims to educate and empower Palestinian refugee school students with the skills and confidence to excel in their studies and increase their employability.

1000 students at risk of dropping out of school (aged 8-18 years old), will participate in 4-5 months of after-school activities including English language, financial literacy, digital media training, business skills training and career counselling. Other activities include: training for 40 UNRWA teachers (from primary and secondary level schools), they will have their teaching skills upgraded through ‘training of trainers’ sessions in order to sustain the impact of this programme, and some students will also have an opportunity for work placements / internships with employers in Lebanon. These activities will improve the students’ basic skills and will improve their performance and achievements in school and increase their employment options.