After more than four years of civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced more than half the population, Syria is still a country divided. A variety of actors are locked in a power struggle including President Bashar al-Assad’s troops, Kurdish forces, the al-Nusra front, the Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other armed factions.
The ongoing war in Syria has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in the country, with nearly 13.5 million Syrians in need of some form of assistance. UN and its partners have finalized the Humanitarian Response Plan for 2016, which requires $3.2 billion for 13.5 million Syrians; including nearly 6.5 million who are internally displaced, about 72 per cent of the population that is without access to drinking water and an estimated two million children who are out of school.
With this in mind, civil society continues to play a pivotal role in assisting to alleviate the plight of Syrians. One fine example of this is the Al Imdaad Foundation’s Flour4Syria campaign which is an ongoing project contributing to the flour needs of bakeries supplying displaced Syrians.
Saturday 5th December saw the launch of a convoy of flour and humanitarian winter aid for the Syrian people that brought together 12 international NGOs. South Africa was represented in the convoy by the Al-Imdaad Foundation, which contributed 10 trucks consisting of a total of 250 tons of flour that will be used to produce pita loaves, which are the Syrian staple.
Hamza Badrudeen, a media officer with the Al-Imdaad Foundation says that their latest project was a convoy of flour that was sent through from Turkey to Syria to be distributed to a network of humanitarian bakeries inside Syria.
The price of bread in Syria has escalated so much so that one loaf of pita is almost six US dollars makes it very unaffordable to the Syrian community.
“The flour will allow the bakeries to produce pita loaves and this will be distributed for free to IDP (internally displaced persons) communities inside Syria,” Badrudeen explained.
The project was a joint operation between the foundation and other NGOs from as far afield as Australia, the UK, Qatar coming together to serve the Syrian people.
“The convoy was a winter humanitarian aid convoy and the Al-Imdaad’s focus was on the flour, but the other organisations we worked with were also distributing other winter supplies like clothes and winter essentials and appliances,” Badrudeen went further.
“It was a testament to the ability of organisations to work together in tackling the Syrian problem especially in times like the winter where the displaced people and refugees are suffering the most.”
In order to raise funds to send a convoy to Syria, the Al Imdaad foundation appealed to donors inside the country and received a positive response from their appeal.
“We give the supplies to the bakeries operating inside Syria so that will continue and we are still receiving funds so as funds come in we can do a new convoy and send in new flour,” Badrudeen continued.
“But sometimes the flour used to produce the pita loaf with is the Syrian staple is insufficient so there is a need for a constant supply of flour so that is what we are trying to do so we are constantly appealing for those funds.”
Badrudeen says that the war is making the humanitarian work more difficult, but at the same time the foundation will continue to push the humanitarian effort.
“We have a strong partner in the region which is the IHH of turkey, there have been a few setbacks, but we are all committed so we will continue this as long as necessary,” Badrudeen concluded. VOC