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Aid Reaches Earthquake Victims in Aleppo, Syria

Aleppo, Syria – It has taken a long, long time, but finally a delivery of aid has reached needy earthquake survivors in Aleppo, the city in government-held Syria that was most affected by February's earthquake. Friends and supporters of the International Relief and Friendship Foundation in Italy donated 2500 euros in February.

In order to channel the aid as quickly as possible to alleviate devastating earthquake damage, Lebanon was selected as the most suitable intermediate country. However, many obstacles delayed the aid project. Banks in Europe and Lebanon required extra verification and compliance checks because of sanctions, but while these were obtained by UPF-Lebanon Secretary General Hermine Schellen, the funds were sent back to Italy. They were then re-wired with the help of IRFF Germany, finally becoming accessible to UPF-Lebanon in May.

Mrs. Schellen then proceeded, working from a list provided by Syrian charity Nabad, to source medical supplies and other emergency items. But then a further barrier arose. A labyrinth of Syrian government requirements followed: preapproval of the list of items, approval and documentation from the local administration, approval from the Ministry of the Interior, and then from the Ministry of Finance. All of this was navigated by UPF's dedicated Syrian Ambassador for Peace, Rehab Al Bitar.

Finally, the aid supplies was picked up in Lebanon on October 23, and taken to the Syrian border, where further bureaucracy delayed the items for another day. From there to Aleppo took seven hours, with 20 police checks. The aid was finally delivered on October 27 to the Senior Home for the Care of the Elderly in the Al Mashatiyah neighborhood.

Aid packages were given to the most needy. Some were families who had lost a father to the earthquake. Others were elderly people who had been pulled out from under the rubble, each of them facing serious difficulty; some had been paralyzed, some had lost their memory. These people who don't have relatives to take care of them are cared for by the dedicated staff of the Senior Home.

Thanks are due to many people: First to the IRFF donors in Italy, then to Mrs. Hermine Schellen of UPF-Lebanon, and finally to Mrs. Rehab Al Bitar, whose resourcefulness, persistence and personal investment made it possible for the donations to reach their destination in the end.

By David Fraser Harris, Secretary General, UPF-Middle East and North Africa

October 27, 2023


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