Thursday 22 August 2013
ShelterBox responds to Syria conflict in Kurdistan
Winterized ShelterBox tents set up at Domiz refugee camp, Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan, October 2012.
A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) is arriving in Irbil, Iraqi Kurdistan today in response to the influx of Syrian refugees that have been pouring over the border since Thursday last week.
Thousands of Syrian families crossed a new pontoon bridge over the Tigris River at Peshkhabour border point from Syria to Duhok province, Iraqi Kurdistan last weekend.
"The factors allowing this sudden movement are not fully clear to us," said a spokesperson from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Adrian Edwards, in Geneva.
The reasons for the influx remain unclear but there has been a dramatic increase in fighting between Syrian Kurds and anti-government Islamist militants, according to various media reports.
UNHCR say that many of the newly arriving Syrians had traveled from Aleppo, Afrin, Hassake and Qamishli and had been waiting at the border crossing for up to three days.
"We responded to the initial influx of Syrian refugees into Iraqi Kurdistan last year in October where we distributed 500 winterized ShelterBoxes at Domiz refugee camp in Duhok," said ShelterBox Operations Coordinator and SRT member Alice Jefferson (UK). "Since then, we have continued to monitor the situation in the country and this exodus of refugees has triggered us to respond once more.
Shelter, warmth and dignity
"We will be meeting with other humanitarian organizations, including UNHCR and Barzani Charity Foundation (BCF), which we worked with in our previous response here, to assess the need and discuss a possible shelter distribution plan with the aim of bringing shelter, warmth and dignity to these displaced families."
Meanwhile in Lebanon, there are winterized ShelterBoxes ready to be distributed if needed in preparation for the potential influx of refugees from Syria’s Damascus, owing to the recent media reports on chemical weapons earlier this week.