UNHCR

This week The Guardian published a shocking report on the misuse of over 38 million Euros that the UNHCR has received from the EU to support refugees in Europe this year.

We have a crazy story to tell you to support this…

The Guardian article explained that the UNHCR was expected to prepare the camps in Greece (home to over 50,000 Syrians) for the bitter winter with this money.

This included moving people from tents to heated containers or formal housing; heating warehouses where other refugees are living; providing a consistent supply of hot water; and installing insulated flooring for anyone still left in tents.

Well I saw with my own eyes this week, and hear from our team on the ground daily, that thousands of refugees still live in freezing cold, crazily shocking conditions.

But even more crazier than this…

In Turkey our amazing team member Kelli Scott​ has been distributing hundreds of wood burners to the Syrian families living in tents around Izmir.

This came after months of working closely with these families and really listening to what they wanted and needed. She has managed to provide a heater for every 2nd home.

Last week, when visiting her friends in the camps, she was shocked to see that the UNHCR had distributed ELECTRIC oil heaters to the camps.

Electic heaters to tents in the mud? Where no one even has the electricity to power more than a single lightbulb, if at all?

The large NGO had left the boxes outside the camps, without communicating with the residents at all or looking into who needed what and where.

This week, when visiting camps, Kelli found the expensive heaters all still in their boxes, unused. When she asked people about them, they explained they were completely useless to them given their circumstances and situation.

One of the guys was sitting on one of the boxes outside, using it as a seat to enjoy the little bit of winter sun. When Kelli asked him about it, he said he had actually tried to use it, but as soon as he plugged it in, it blew his electricity and the landowner of the farm on which they live had come round and told him that he would be charged a lot more for electricity the following month.

Kelli found the wood heaters she had distributed burning consistantly inside the tents she visited…you can see one in the picture below.

The Syrians asked Kelli if they could swap the electric heaters for the wood ones (which are much cheaper), or sell the electric ones at the market to fund many more wooden ones.

The article in the Guardian also mentioned that it has been up to Grassroots groups, or ‘smaller, volunteer-led groups to use their weaker resources to fill in the gaps’ left by the larger NGO’s.

This story is a classic example of this, but also an example of how the compassion and love of individuals like you guys, coming together in support of those who need it, has actually, during this modern-day humanitarian crisis, often been more effective than the work of the big organisations.

This online community, The Worldwide Tribe, is so strong and beautiful!

We want to thank you guys for all being part of it and helping us keep families warm this Christmas.

Click here to read the full Guardian article.

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