Refugee Family
The Orphan
Ziyarat Project Niyabat Project
Refugee families are those families that have been forced to move from their permanent homes. The reasons are many. They no longer have a home – it has been destroyed in conflict. They cannot live at home – their lives are in danger due to violence, death threats, disease and starvation.
We support refugee families in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Kenya and Uganda. We provide financial assistance, shelter, food, access to medical care, education where possible and legal assistance so these refugees are supported during what is a very disturbing time for them. Although many families remain as refugees for years, realistically this is not the best option for them as they cannot successfully rebuild their lives in this state. We work to support these people gain long term solutions to their problems. However, this is not an easy task as the conditions within the countries we work in are often the biggest challenge we face while trying to assist these families.

For example, in Iraq alone there are an estimated 4 million IDP’s (internally displaced persons) and refugees from neighbouring countries engaged in conflict. With the current situation in Syria escalating, this number is expected to rise rapidly over the next year. Already having suffered over 40 years of deterioration through UN sanctions, numerous wars and continued sectarian violence, the country’s provisional infrastructure (roads, electric grid, gas lines, water supply etc...) has crumbled and ‘body’ of public services (hospitals, schools, sanitation etc...) has been starved of funding now operating as a ‘skeleton’ of sub-standard services heavily reliant on outside official aid (UN etc...) and NGO’s (Non Governmental Organisations – charities).

Refugee families in Iraq and are faced with two options in a bid to rebuild their lives, they either go home or start again. Each option has its own difficulties and families often spend months weighing up the options.

Going home – If a refugee family is from outside Iraq seeking refuge in Iraq, we explore whether going back to their country is a possibility. This normally depends on the situation that has caused them to seek refuge. If a Refugee family is Iraqi and internally displaced this could be due to many reasons. They may have left their home in a part of the country where there is sectarian violence and arrived in a part where they feel they are safe, or left due to lack of services (no water, electricity etc...), heavy destruction of their home and locality (explosions and attacks) making life intolerable for them, disease and so on.

We explore their options and help them make informed decisions about their future as much as possible. In the case of homes being destroyed due to conflict, if the family wants to go back to their home, there is the option of doing this. We liaise with the UNHCR who help rebuild destroyed houses to get people back into their homes. As long as the family’s safety is considered and it is found to be safe, this option of return is encouraged quickly, as when houses remain empty for long periods they are usually occupied by illegal occupants, otherwise known as squatters, resulting in long drawn out legal battles for the rights of the property, be it land or buildings. Our families welcome and rely upon the valuable work done by the DRC (Denmark Refugee Council) and their body of staff who deal with the legal aspects of ownership, providing the Refugees with legal documentation and therefore their rights to return home.

Starting again – This is the option that families take when their situation is particularly difficult and the decision is reached that they cannot go home. Families are provided with financial assistance, shelter, food, medical assistance and education where possible. We visit their temporary homes which are sometimes ‘makeshift’ tents to carry out a ‘needs assessment’. We then liaise with the UNHCR, UNICEF and DRC so that we can together provide the best support and long-term solution for them. Sometimes their living situation is so bad that they have no access to running water and sanitation, they have nowhere to take a bath or go to the toilet, basic requirement s for all humans. We work together with the UNHCR and these families are supplied with mobile latrines – a basic facility setup to have a shower, toilet and sink within a cubicle measuring 1m by 1m. The families are provided with clean drinking water also where needed.

Financial Hardship – The biggest problem the families face is financially supporting themselves. Being a refugee and seeking work in already harsh conditions is a hard task and they often have no choice but to settle for very poor wages. This in turn means that the families are in constant financial hardship unable to afford food and other basic necessities. This is where we step-in and assist these families to be able to live.

Skills Training - One solution is to offer skills training to the main breadwinner in these families so that they can earn a better wage and eventually become independent of charity handouts or provide tools and basic items that people can use to earn an income like a sewing machine or carpentry tools etc... The skills training initiative was setup several years ago by the UNHCR initially to provide widows with orphan children the skills that could make them financially independent However, funding for this scheme has now stopped and we are looking to continue this project independently for families under our care and are seeking grants for this.

Legal Rights - Another area that refugees need assistance with is finding out what their legal entitlements are. Often refugees are told they have no rights and this leaves them feeling helpless and depressed. Some may harm themselves as the burden of their difficult life mounts and they feel alone. However, usually refugees do have some rights and communicating this to them and reaching out to them is very important and a part of what the DRC does which we are involved with and our families benefit from.

We give families hope.

You can too.

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