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GOAL signs €2.5 million deal with US for Syrian aid

Millions of people are displaced as Syria experiences an extremely harsh winter

GOAL HAS SIGNED a contract with USAID, the US government’s humanitarian agency, for €2.5 million.

A spokesperson for GOAL told TheJournal.ie that the funding will go towards the work the charity is doing in north Syria in the Idlib Governorate, where they are working with displaced families.

Syria

Displaced people have lost their homes, possessions and livelihood and are depending on host families, mosques or community centres to give them shelter. Some are living in rural areas, and none have any way of getting food, or money to make food, while some have had their homes destroyed.

Pic: GOAL

One of the main things that GOAL is providing them with is flour, as bread is a staple food in Syria. More than 50 tonnes of flour have been delivered to more than 31, 000 people in the Idlib Province, while 4,000 blankets were delivered to 12,000 people in November. The charity has also just received 9,000 blankets and 3,000 hygiene kits from Irish Aid from their stocks in Dubai for use in Syria.

The arrival of winter has meant that the lives of hundreds of thousands are being threatened by hypothermia, malnutrition and other severe illnesses. They are also traumatised by the war and are in constant fear of aerial attack.

Goal has a long-standing good relationship with the US government, and has programmes with them in a number of countries.  It has also received thousands of euro worth of blankets and kits from the Irish government.

Working in Syria

Alan Glasgow, head of business development with GOAL, was recently in the Idlib Governorate and will be returning in a number of weeks. He told TheJournal.ie that conditions there “are grim – it is a full-on warzone”.

“Urban centres have been largely destroyed by the conflict, but the rural settings are reasonably OK,” he said, pointing out that 2.5 million people are on the move in Syria away from urban areas, looking for shelter and protection.

Alan Glasgow at work in Syria. Pic: GOAL

They have been absorbed by host families, or are sleeping in schools, mosques, community buildings… the electricity has been knocked out, the water system is knocked out, and it’s a very cold, cold winter. There are a lot of people sleeping on high ground.

GOAL is working on distributing the flour, as well as non-food items such as blankets and plastic sheeting, to thousands of people.

We’re about to start a new programme with support from USAID, we will be able to do more blankets and non-food items and also a voucher programme for six months for 5,000 families, or 30,000 people. That is a voucher that can be exchanged for goods in whatever shops are open.

Camps for refugees exist outside of Syria, so inside the country GOAL is working with the displaced and their host families or centres. One area they are working in is the city of Harem, which was under government control but fell to rebels on Christmas Eve. People have begun moving back into the city, and GOAL is working with them on this.

There are about six international staff working on the ground, and about 15 national staff, including Turks and Syrians. GOAL is working through a Syrian NGO partner, which is helping with logistical issues.

Day-to-day tasks include generating distribution lists, working with their NGO partner to identify who the most needy people are, verifying lists, and visiting households.

They are working with marginalised people, including the widows of those killed in the fighting, and people with disabilities. A big part of working in a conflict zone is monitoring where things are going and ensuring they end up where they were intended for, said Glasgow.

The situation on the ground is dangerous, as Idlib is still under attack, and GOAL staff have extremely robust security protocols that they adhere to.

With people being killed in the country every day, the UN has called for up to $1.5 billion in humanitarian assistance to begin to tackle the problem.

An estimated 700,000 have fled Syria and are living in refugee camps, with the UN warning that the figure could approach 1 million later this year if the conflict does not ease.

GOAL is currently seeking further funds to help it deliver more aid, such as food, warm clothing and hygiene kits, to affected people in Syria.

Read: Israel strike on Syria ‘unacceptable’: Russia>

Read: A further €4.7 million in Irish Aid pledged for humanitarian crisis in Syria>

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