Firefly International helps victims of the Syrian conflict become leaders of their own recovery, either as a refugee population integrating into a new country or as one waiting for the chance to rebuild their own country. Beyond offering the necessary funding assistance, we encourage and empower Syrian refugees to design and run the programmes that they and their communities benefit from.
The Syrian Crisis
As active conflict partially decreases, Russia and Syria called for refugees to return and Syria passed laws to facilitate reconstruction. Despite this, government forces continued to violate human rights and international humanitarian law, arbitrarily detaining and mistreating people, and imposing onerous restrictions on freedom of movement. As of August 30, 2018, more than 90,000 individuals were forcibly disappeared in Syria, most at the hands of the Syrian government, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), a local monitoring organization. The Violations Documentation Center (VDC), a local monitoring group, has compiled 60,000 names of those detained by the government since 2011 whose fate remains unknown.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a monitoring group based in the UK, estimated the death toll since the start of the war to be as high as 511,000 as of March 2018.Syria’s economy and infrastructure have been reduced to ruins, with 6 out of 10 Syrians now living in extreme poverty.
International donors were slow to acknowledge the humanitarian nature of this crisis when it first began in 2011. Even now in spite of the sheer scale of the crisis, international aid projects for displaced Syrians in Syria and Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries receive only about 53.5% of the necessary funding required. One of the key risks to people in Syria is international complacency from a sense of powerlessness, or whenever hostilities will cease, from a misconceived perception among the general public that the problem will be then over. Atrocities and destruction have reached catastrophic proportions, leaving behind deep and complex wounds to heal for future generations.
Firefly’s Response: Education Centre for Syrian Refugees in Antakya, Hatay Province Turkey
Since January 2018 ten provinces – Hatay – suspended Syrian asylum seeker registration. Turkish security forces intercepted and deported thousands of newly arrived Syrian asylum seekers at the Turkey-Syrian border during the year, and summarily deported them to the war-ravaged Syrian governorate of Idlib. Turkey has stated that it will not open its border to asylum seekers fleeing hostilities in Idlib which are currently on-going. Instead, Turkish authorities have opened several displacement camps in areas under their control in Syria.
Over the past years, Firefly has been doing its utmost to support Syrian refugees in different ways. In early 2016, we stepped up our commitment by helping a group of refugees to design, fund and set-up a youth education centre in Antakya, the capital of the Hatay province in Turkey. The Hatay province counts about 1.5 million residents with more than 440,000 Syrian refugees.
Entirely run by Syrian refugees, our centre provides education and psycho-social support to more than 2000 children a year in Turkey and inside Northern Syria. Most of our children live in very basic accommodation and many have to work part time in subsistence jobs, such as sorting rubbish or working in street markets, to help their families raise money for rents. These children desperately need the hope and support this initiative is providing to find their way back to education and start building a better future for themselves. Our center plugs the lost years in education due to displacement and conflict. In February 2017 we opened a school in a camp inside Syria close to the border that serves 60 children, we have trained 15 teachers online to deliver our science programme inside Syria extending our outreach. All our educational resources are made in our center in Antakya they are portable and delivered cross border to accompany our classes. These are essential where educational resources are scarce and are bespoke designed to accompany our applied science curriculum.
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.