#NotATarget: All too often, civilians find themselves under fire. We stand by them and, with the assistance of our local colleagues, we managed to help more than 1.5 million people last year
Prague (15th August 2017) – While millions of people flee war-torn countries trying to find safe havens for themselves and their families, a far larger number of them are forced to remain, despite the continued fighting, and they often fall victim to the attacks. According to UN data, more than 32,000 civilians were killed or injured by explosive weapons in armed conflicts in 2016. In 90 per cent of these cases, the attacks happened in populated civilian areas. People who were lucky enough to survive were forced to leave their homes. In 2016, 65.6 million people around the world were forced from home by armed conflict. Of these, 40,3 million were people internally displaced. And this number is growing.
Increasingly, humanitarian workers are among the victims of the conflicts. Approximately 300 humanitarian workers are killed, injured or abducted every year. 85 - 90 per cent of these cases are national colleagues. People in Need (PIN) is also among those who provide long-term assistance in areas of conflict to ease the suffering of the most vulnerable. “In 2016, we had 1,136 employees in 22 countries; and for every expatriate there were 11 national colleagues. It is with their assistance that we could help more than 1.5 million most vulnerable people in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine in 2016,“ says Marek Štys, Head of PIN Emergency Programmes. He adds that PIN has provided assistance worth almost 33 million EUR in these three countries alone.
On Saturday, August 19, World Humanitarian Day is held to remember all humanitarian workers who operate in dangerous areas and often put their lives at risk. Failing to respect the International Humanitarian Law, the warring sides increasingly direct their attacks at civilian targets, such as schools, hospitals or busy markets. Humanitarian organizations and their staff become the victims of these attacks. Unfortunately, PIN suffered a tragic loss last year, too. “In December 2016, our colleague, Hasan Sa’aid Al Soun, died in an air strike on the city of Atareb, near Aleppo. Hasan worked as a regional coordinator of our office in Syria. During the air strike he was at home, together with his wife, children and other family members, who lost their lives in the air strike, too,“ says Tomáš Kocian, PIN`s Regional Director for Syria, Iraq and Ukraine. Humanitarian workers respond to crises around the world and provide assistance to the most vulnerable people, who, more often than not, depend on them completely.
According to EU data, there are 13.5 million people in Syria in need of humanitarian assistance; of these, approximately 6.3 million are internally displaced and a large number of people live in hard-to-reach and besieged areas. In 2016, PIN in Syria distributed food vouchers and food rations to more than 710,000 people; more than 61,000 people received financial support; 8,930 people took part in community work, and 1,500 farmers received financial support. Thanks to restoration of water and sewage networks, more than 200,000 people now have access to drinking water. Moreover, 7,835 children and 398 teachers in 20 schools received support.
“There were several airstrikes every day. We couldn`t get food or medicine, and prices were very high. The situation had been terrible for several months but the last few weeks during the siege were extremely difficult,“ says Omar, from eastern Aleppo. In December in 2016, after the siege was broken, Omar together with the last group of inhabitants were evacuated from the city. “If it was up to me, I never would have left Aleppo. I was born there. I spent my whole life in Aleppo,“ says Omar. He left only with what he was wearing at the time. Omar, Aleppo
According to European Commission, in Iraq there are currently 11 million people in need of humanitarian aid. Approximately 3.4 million are internally displaced people; of these, 1 million have been displaced in connection with the Mosul military operations. In 2016, PIN in Iraq distributed winter clothing to 1,320 people; 18,048 people received financial support and over 1,080 people participated in community work. PIN also endorses education: 8,322 students and 182 teachers in 15 schools have been supported, as well as 7,748 children through recreational activities. Thanks to cooperation with our partner organizations from Alliance2015, another 12,040 internally displaced people, returnees and host families in the area of West Mosul will receive assistance in the following months.
“In the two years under ISIL control I never had more than 10 dollars. My children are suffering and they need medical care. People in the whole community need work and access to basic equipment and food – we have nothing!“ says Imran, father of five, who lived with his family in Eastern Mosul until 2014 when the city fell under the control of the so-called Islamic State. During the military offensive to re-take the city, people fled with the few possessions they could carry. Most of them have lost their homes and have no resources. “Any help is appreciated,“ says Imran. Imran, Mosul
In Ukraine, the number of people in need of humanitarian aid is currently 3.8 million, according to EU data. 70 percent of these are women, children and the elderly. Since the beginning of the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine, more than 2,770 civilians have been killed. In 2016, PIN has distributed 323,000 food vouchers and packages in Eastern Ukraine, it provided drinking water to 25,000 people and toiletry packages to 136,150 people. Almost 7,000 people received financial contributions to be able to repair their homes and 21,500 people received building material and assistance when reconstructing their homes.
“It was at around half past four in the afternoon and everyone was at home. At first, the shells fell into the nearby field. Then I heard the whizzing sound and suddenly the whole village was under fire. I ran back into the bedroom. I hid under the table. I was so shocked that I didn`t hear the shards of glass flying past me,” says Lyubov Dmitrievna, remembering the day when her house in the village of Lastochkino, just a few miles from the frontline in the east of the country, came under fire. After this incident Lyubov and her son moved to the Rodinskoe village not too far away. They were scared other attacks would follow. “I thought it was the end of the world. I really am exhausted by this war.” The memories are still all too real. Lyubov Dmitrievna, Lastochkino
Every year since 2003, on 19 August, we commemorate World Humanitarian Day. People in Need would like to express respect and admiration to those who help the needy, risking their own lives. And those who live in dreadful conditions in the affected areas, facing danger every day. According to the latest findings, there are 128.6 million people around the world in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. “When counting the affected people these days, the numbers run into hundreds of thousands or even millions, or even whole populations. It is vital, though, to look at the people behind the numbers, to see their faces and listen to their stories. People who found themselves in critical situations and depend on others,“ says Marek Štys.
It is thanks to institutional donors and the support of the Czech public who contribute through Club of Friends of People in Need, that humanitarian assistance of People in Need is possible. People in Need would like to thank all our donors for their kind support.
For further information please contact:
Marek Štys, Head of PIN Emergency Programmes,+420 777 053 522 email@example.com
Tomáš Kocian, PIN Regional Director for Syria, Iraq and Ukraine,+420 777 787 970 Tomas.Kocian@peopleinneed.cz