Saturday, March 15, 2014

#LetUsThrough ... & KUDOS to The Guardian for a dignified glance at what is it really like to be on the frontline of humanitarian response

Have you come across any inspiring stories about refugee resilience? 
Khaled. Photograph: UNRWA ...
A 14-month-old baby boy called Khaled. He looked like a five-month-old when his mother brought him to UNRWA. But with just a few days of proper food and medicine, he was brought back from the abyss.
Christopher Gunness, UNRWA
I was surprised by coming across a refugee community living in a disused railway station in Idlib province. The community had developed with a structured hierarchy, with the elders acting as councillors and the young men working the land and looking after the few cows and goats they had.
Matthew Norman, Syria Relief
Every day, I met the future of Syria, Syrian children who talk about their dream: the future paediatrician who said she will give free medicine to children; future painters, future airplane engineers. [They are] the future of Syria; they are the ones who show me hope.
Eujin Byun, UNHCR
I met a 70-year-old Syrian grandmother at one of our winter voucher distribution centers in east Amman. Even though we only engaged for a couple of hours, still, to this day, I think of her. Not for her harrowing tales – of which, like all those who cross the border, she had many – but simply for her [sense of] thrill, her love of life. Never without a smile, the grandmother of nine cheekily joked and charmed everyone in her presence. She brought joy and laughter at a time when they are rarely seen.
Rosie Thompson, Save the Children

Syria crisis: what we’ve learned three years on

We’ve been using GuardianWitness to highlight the Syrian refugee crisis. Here, we ask our key contributors to reflect

This week marks three years since the start of the Syrian civil war. The conflict, which shows no sign of abating, has claimed 140,000 lives, forced 2.5 million people to flee for safety, and left a further 4.3 million people displaced within Syria’s borders. The UN estimates that 9.3 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance.

Agencies have issued multiple warnings and calls for help to deal with the conflict’s fallout. Only this week, Unicef and World Vision warned that – with millions of children facing collapsing health and education services, and suffering acute psychological distress and impoverishment – a potential “lost generation” is emerging.

There are also concerns about the pressure refugees are putting on neighbouring countries Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. UN officials have repeatedly called for Europe to relax its border controls in order to ease the growing humanitarian crisis on its doorstep, and have issued multiple appeals for financial assistance.

The public has become accustomed to images from Syria and beyond being beamed around the world, and has responded sympathetically. Thousands joined solidarity vigils for the #withsyria campaign, for which Banksy adapted an iconic image currently doing the rounds on social media. But what is it really like to be on the frontline of the humanitarian response?...READ MORE

Is there anything else you would like to highlight? 
A “thunderclap” new media campaign which aims to generate 23m social media hits with our campaign hashtag #LetUsThrough. Once we have done that, the iconic image of refugees waiting for food distributions in Yarmouk will appear on the electronic billboard in New York’s Times Square …. we will then get people in Times Square to do “selfies”, with the billboard as a background, and circulate them to all 23 million people who supported the campaign. It sounds complicated, but it is very simple. Please sign up. With two clicks you can make a real difference.
Christopher Gunness, UNRWA

This Thunderclap campaign aims to generate at least 23 million tweets, the pre-war population of Syria, with the #LetUsThrough hashtag. Once we have achieved that, our Thunderclap image will appear on the electronic billboard in New York’s Times Square, not far from United Nations Headquarters, sending a powerful message to the global diplomatic community that we demand they unite and “LetUsThrough.” We will then photograph the image on the Times Square billboard and tweet it out to the millions who followed us in the campaign.

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