Turkey: Building a Social Ground to Promote the Well-being of Syrian Refugees

In July 2014, AAR Japan established a community center in the city of Sanliurfa located in southeastern Turkey for Syrian refugees, having no prospects of returning home, wish to settle in Turkey. At the center, we provide them with consultations on local public services, necessary for their everyday life. In addition, we offer refugees a variety of educational classes and events where Syrians can interact with the local Turkish community.

155 people participated in an event held in October for the interaction between the Syrians and the Turkish. AAR staff, Junko YANAGIDA, second from the left. (October 9th, 2014)


Emergency Assistance for Syrian Refugees: From the Scene of Syrian Crisis — A Class to Teach the Mother Tongue

There were rows of earth-colored tents on the camp site, surrounded by a wall. When I looked into a large tent found in one corner of the camp, around 40 children were practicing pronunciation of Kurdish words in a loud voice. Though provided with desks and chairs, they had neither writing tools nor textbooks. Their lesson was a pronunciation practice, while looking at the letters written on a whiteboard. It was quite a simple lesson but for the children it seemed to be a lot of fun.
Children learning Kurdish at a school in a refugee camp (Suruc, Turkey, December, 2014)


Emergency Assistance for Syrian Refugees: A Boy Deprived of His Smile by a Landmine

A talk event where Yoshifumi KAWABATA, a photo-journalist, and Yoshifumi KAGEHIRA of AAR Japan Tokyo Office discuss emergency assistance for Syrian refugees will be held 8F Yaezu Book Center from 19:00 on March 3rd, 2015.

Photo-journalist Yoshifumi KAWABATA reports on the daily lives of Syrian refugees in Turkey, who fled from the turmoil of war in their home country, through the article and photographs below. The report, the second of the series, is about a boy who lost his brother and both of his legs en route to crossing the border.

Wael, who lost his legs to a landmine, and his father (December, 2014)


Report of Photo Exhibition "Women in Mine Action: Celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty"

Women working in mine action all over the world

Fifteen years have elapsed since “the Mine Ban Treaty” (the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction) came into effect in 1999. AAR Japan, a member organization of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), contributed to the formulation of the treaty; it held a photo exhibition between December 17th and 19th, 2014 at the Kensei Kinenkan in Tokyo, showing the current situation of mine action in countries like Afghanistan and Sudan, which are contaminated with landmines, as well as efforts to deal with mine issues by Japan and other international communities.

One of the photo panels provided by AAR: Afghan girls watching a movie about mine/UXO (unexploded ordnances) issues and support for mine victims (Kabul, Afghanistan, March 2013)


Philippines: One Year On After Typhoon Yolanda - Assisting Persons with Disabilities

On November 8th, 2013, a super typhoon (in Filipino, Typhoon Yolanda), the 30th named storm of the 2013 Pacific typhoon season, made landfall in the central region of the Philippines. Immediately after the typhoon struck, AAR Japan sent support by distributing relief goods and repairing homes in the most devastated areas of Northern Cebu, and in Tacloban City and Palo Town on the island of Leyte. While carrying out our emergency relief activities, we gave particular attention to assisting persons with disabilities (PWDs) - in which we have accumulated extensive experience in other countries. AAR continued providing aid until the end of October, 2014.

Pursuing the kind of aid only AAR could give

After the typhoon struck, there was no survey carried out to confirm the safety or conditions of PWDs in the above target areas. At that point, AAR stepped in, going door-to-door and documenting where PWDs lived and what kind of disabilities they had to ensure that nobody was left out from receiving emergency relief. In total, we collected information from 5,687 PWDs, and submitted the compiled data to local government units. In addition, AAR provided food and other relief goods to households with PWDs. During the goods distribution and door-to-door survey, we discovered that many PWDs in the target areas had lost their wheelchairs - their only means of transportation - due to the typhoon and tsunami. Moreover, governmental support for PWDs is still insufficient in the Philippines, and discrimination is a very real issue. As a result, PWDs are more likely to seclude themselves in their homes.

Providing tailored “legs”

In response to the plight that PWDs faced in the Philippines after the typhoon, AAR provided 40 wheelchairs and 27 walkers to PWDs with mobility difficulties in Tacloban and Palo, Leyte. To the PWDs, these wheelchairs and walkers are their “legs”. Therefore, it was essential to ensure that the type and size fitted each individual. Together with a Filipino wheelchair specialist organization, AAR had a “measuring session” to measure the length of each individual’s legs and assess their balance and posture. A “fitting session” followed, in which we adjusted the wheelchairs and had PWDs practice using them. Once we ensured the adjustments and correct usage, the wheelchairs were distributed. Afterwards, AAR continued to provide comprehensive support by conducting “follow-ups” to check if any of PWDs were having difficulties using their wheelchairs.

At the “measuring session”. In order to provide wheelchairs that fit each individual perfectly, we measured the legs of the PWDs one by one. (May 24th, 2014, Palo)


Sudan: Protecting Those Living in Mine-Affected Areas

Overcoming the conflicts and restoring hope

In Sudan, a peace agreement was reached in 2005, putting an end to the 21-year civil war between the north and the south. In 2006, AAR Japan started mine risk education.

When I visited a village called Shalalob to conduct a survey, I met a woman who was unable to take her child to a hospital due to a lack of money and a lack of access to a car. When she asked why we came to the village, we explained about mine risk education. She responded, “How come you are so eager to save our lives? Tell me where landmines are. I want to step on a landmine to put an end to my miserable life.”

The AAR team was shocked to hear her words. I realized that the lingering civil war had not only left landmines and unexploded ordnances (UXOs) in Sudan, but also left the local people in poverty, despair, and sorrow.

One of our local staff, Amaeim (center), explains what landmines look like and where they are likely to be found by showing a poster. 


Emergency Assistance for Syrian Refugees: A Refugee Family Who Lost Everything

A large number of Syrian refugees have fled their motherland in the midst of the war and have taken shelter in Turkey. Yoshifumi KAWABATA, a photojournalist, reports on the refugee families. His first report is on a family who has arrived in Suruc in Turkey to flee from the threat of the Islamic State.

Bilal’s family, who have fled Syria, stay in a tent on a vacant lot in a suburb of Suruc. (November 2014)