On World Refugee Day it has been announced that players of People’s Postcode Lottery have raised £400,000 for The HALO Trust. The funding, awarded through Postcode Global Trust, will help to save the lives of refugees and displaced people threatened by more than a decade of war in Syria. The support will be delivered by Scotland’s largest international charity, which has been clearing landmines and explosives in Syria for six years.
The award will allow HALO, which was made famous by Diana, Princess of Wales, to work in towns, villages and refugee camps in Northwest Syria threatened by explosives and in need of healthcare.
The Syrian conflict, which started in March 2011, has driven millions of people from their homes and created a humanitarian crisis in the Northwest where almost half the population are internally displaced people and 30 percent are living with a disability.
HALO’s survey and mapping teams have found that 1.6 million people in the enclave live close to unexploded shells, bombs, and landmines. Children in refugee and displacement camps, who are forced by poverty to hunt for scrap metal, are particularly vulnerable to the threat from explosives that litter their communities. Since 2015, more than 4,500 accidents have brought death and life-changing injuries to families.
The funding, raised by players of Edinburgh based People’s Postcode Lottery, will allow HALO to save lives by finding and destroying explosives and by hiring and training local people to clear their own communities. Given the impact of grain price increases, it is especially important to free up land for agriculture by removing explosive debris left behind by past fighting.
HALO will also teach safe behaviour around explosive ordnance, focusing on the most vulnerable – those in displacement camps, including children. To ensure risk education is reinforced and shared with the thousands of people continuing to arrive in Idleb, the team will train local community volunteers and NGO workers to continue to deliver these lessons.
Local HALO staff will also work with victims of explosive accidents and their families, to help them find treatment in Syria’s fragmented healthcare system so they can access emergency and ongoing support.
James Cowan, HALO’s chief executive, said: “After more than a decade of conflict the needs of Syria’s people are greater than ever, but the world’s attention has moved on to other crises. Players of People’s Postcode Lottery are raising funds which will allow us to provide incredibly valuable assistance that will save lives and help people access desperately needed medical care.”
Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “Every day through vital their work The HALO Trust are making an important difference to the lives of those living in Syria. We are delighted that funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery will support The Trust in their efforts to protect civilians living through war.”
Notes to Editors:
The HALO Trust was founded in Afghanistan in 1988 and from its headquarters in rural Southwest Scotland runs operations in 28 conflict-afffected countries.
HALO employs 10,000 women and men who are making their own countries safer by clearing landmines and explosive hazards and teaching people how to stay safe.
HALO has been operational in Syria since 2016 and is working in the Northwest of the country around Idleb and Aleppo in areas controlled by groups in opposition to the Surian regime in Damascus.
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