Firefly currently provides support for victims of the Syrian conflict through local partners and regional projects, with an emphasis on helping stakeholders to not only receive necessary assistance but also to be empowered to design the programmes they benefit from.
The Syria Crisis and Firefly’s Response
There are now 4 million Syrian refugees, 6.6 million internally displaced Syrians and 2.7 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
Without a clear path to peace, violence in Syria has escalated to frightening proportions. On one hand, the government and its allies carry out indiscriminate attacks on civilians and on the other hand the extremist anti-government groups such as the IS are responsible for targeting civilians, using child soldiers, kidnappings, tortures, executions and mass murders. According to a recent estimate by the Syrian Centre for Policy Research, Syria’s war has killed at least 470,000 people and uprooted at least a third of the prewar population of 23 million from their homes. Over 6 million people are internally displaced, with 4.2 million refugees in neighboring countries. Syria’s economy has been shattered and 85.2 percent of the country now lives in poverty, where 35.1 percent of the population have descended into abject poverty. In addition, life expectancy has dropped an astonishing two full decades to 55 years, according to the United Nations.
International donors were slow to acknowledge the humanitarian nature of this crisis when it first began. Even now in spite of the sheer scale of the crisis international aid, projects only receive about 40-50% of necessary funding to provide essential services.
Education Centre for Syrian Refugees in Antakya
Over the past 2 years, Firefly has been doing its utmost to support Syrian refugees in different ways. Now we have taken a further step forward by helping a group of refugees to design, fund and set-up a youth education centre in Antakya, Turkey. Antakya is a city of one million with 200,000 refugees. Many Syrian families are living in very basic accommodation and there are only limited school places open to Syrian children (two new schools opened this year). Many youth have had no educational opportunities since leaving Syria and have to work in the streets to help raise money for rents, sorting rubbish or working in the markets.
The initial focus of the centre will be on reintegrating working refugee children back into school through fun after-work activities. From there we hope to increase the overall educational offering as we continue to raise more funds.
One of the key risks to people in Syria is international complacency from a sense of powerlessness, or if hostilities do cease, from a misconceived perception among the general public that the problem is then over.
Past projects Firefly has supported for Syrian Refugees include:
Kitabna – Firefly supported Kitabna with literacy training and project development.
Antigone of Syria (Mattar) – An open theatre workshop where Syrian refugee women have a safe space to express their bodies and minds.