09 Mar 2015
RC volunteers distribute relief materials to Syrian refugees. Doha: As part of Qatar’s humanitarian role and commitment to ensure security and humanitarian advocacy regionally and globally, and in response to successive snowstorms that swept the Middle East and North Africa region over the past couple of months, Qatar Red Crescent (QRC) has implemented a mega relief project funded by the Foreign Ministry for Syrian refugees in Lebanon suffering severe living conditions amid snow, homelessness and deprivation of basic needs. With the beginning of the snow season early January, which killed 12 people, including seven children, and affected 1.2 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Qatar adopted an urgent humanitarian intervention programme and sent two planeloads of relief materials. QRC was assigned implementation of the programme, to utilise its relief experience and status as an internationally recognised humanitarian organisation. In less than 12 hours, a special mission of QRC officials and relief specialists was sent to Lebanon. It comprised Rashid bin Saad Al Mohannadi, Director, Social Development Department, QRC, Aiham Alsukhni, Head, Disaster Management, and QRC Risk Reduction Team, including Qatari volunteers Reema Al Meraikhi and Fatima Al Mohannadi. The mission set up an emergency operations centre at QRC Office to coordinate with authorities and humanitarian organisations, evaluate the situation and identify and prioritise urgent needs. Through constant communication with Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and local organisations under the supervision of Qatar’s representative, Dr Ahmed Al Meraikhi, Director, International Development Department, Foreign Ministry, and Qatari Ambassador to Lebanon Ali bin Hamad Al Marri, a large-scale action plan was developed within 24 hours to help the Syrian refugees. The plan was based on four parameters: Dire need; choice of aspects and areas inaccessible for other organisations; focus on aspects that ensure sustainable solutions where possible; and feasibility in light of the available resources and time frame. QRC helped 42,999 distressed families (240,796 people) within 10 days, supplied fuel and medicines to health centres, changed flood tracks, rehabilitated muddy roads and sewerage networks, and distributed heating oil, tarpaulins, blankets, food packages and winter clothes to families. The mission visited target towns to review relief distribution and meet beneficiaries in addition to refugee camps and medical centres in Shebaa and Arsal, and followed up on flood diversion activities in target areas. Saleh bin Ali Al Mohannadi, Secretary-General, QRC, said: “Qatar’s honourable action was a perfect example of prompt response to relieve the Syrian brothers in the face of deteriorating humanitarian conditions due to the severe cold, which helped alleviate the impact and enable thousands of families withstand the calamity until the winter is over.” He said QRC implemented the program in parallel with its annual Warm Winter initiative which has provided blankets, winter clothes, heating oil and wood for thousands of poorest Syrian families in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Syria.