Emergency Assistance for Syrian Refugees: AAR Japan begins the distribution of food and other essential items

From the west, Ayn al-Arab (Kobane in Kurdish), Suruc, Sanliurfa where AAR Japan is conducting the survey, and Viransehir.

Since The Islamic State (IS) began its military campaign against Ayn al-Arab (Kobane in Kurdish), Northern Syria, on September 19, more than 188,000 Syrians have crossed the border and fled to South-Eastern Turkey (UN, 14.10.2014). The humanitarian aid effort by the Turkish government and the international community has not been able to keep up with the drastic increase in the number of refugees. AAR Japan is distributing food and basic daily necessities in Suruc District, Sanliurfa Province where there is a refugee population. Hiroko NAITO of AAR Japan reports on their relief efforts.

Aid for those who have still not been reached by the International Community

Two or three families now live in a single room without glass in the windows and with no household goods such as furniture (Suruc, Turkey, October 16th, 2014)
In cooperation with Support to Life (STL), the local partner organization, AAR Japan has been conducting a situation survey in Suruc District, Turkey. Many refugee families are facing extreme hardship in their lives as refugees in places with abandoned housing, warehouses and small tents, barely covered by a roof, scattered around the villages and towns in this Turkish border area. The refugees have no household goods, and even the most basic necessities such as food, blankets, and hygiene products are in dire shortage. 

In light of this situation, AAR Japan has delivered the first dispatch of relief items to 50 families, living as refugees in four villages (approximately 300 people). The supplies for each family consisted of roughly four boxes containing hygiene products, kitchenware, and blankets, as well as food such as beans, rice, pasta, cooking oil, sugar, condiments, and tea. Everyone received their goods with a huge smile on their faces: “Thank you for coming to us from abroad. Thank you for your kindness.”

The elderly woman, who told us in tears that she has “lost everything.” When it was her turn to receive the supplies, she expressed her gratitude before returning to her shelter with a smile. (Suruc, Turkey, October 22nd, 2014) 
There are many children among the refugees. They came with their families to receive the relief items. (Suruc, Turkey, October 22nd, 2014) 
“I am really sorry for those who fled from Kobane; they have absolutely nothing,” says a villager from Suruc. Yuko NAITO of AAR Japan (left). (Suruc, Turkey, October 22nd, 2014)
In the village where we distributed our relief supplies, no support or aid from the Turkish government and International community has reached those who came from Kobane as refugees, and the goods were received with great appreciation. The refugees are struggling on a day to day basis, drawing on their savings and being dependent upon clothing and food given to them by the local population. The temperature has begun to drop, and people must prepare for the winter, and need to do so quickly.

AAR Japan will continue to conduct the situation survey and deliver the relief supplies. We would like to ask for your warm support.

*The activities in the report are made possible by your donations and the generous funding of Japan Platform (JPF).

AAR Japan is collecting donations in response to the Syrian Refugee crisis. We thank you for your support for those in need.

【Reporter】 Profile as of the date of article publication
Hiroko NAITO, Tokyo Office
Public Relations Officer stationed at the Tokyo Headquarter since November 2012. Upon graduating from university, Hiroko NAITO went on to study International Development and Gender Studies at a graduate school in the United Kingdom. NAITO joined AAR Japan after interning at NGOs and working for a private sector company which runs fair trade projects in Nepal among other experiences. (Born in Niigata Prefecture)
Japanese-English translation by Ms Hanano Sasaki
English editing by Mr Kristen Griffiths

The article on this page has been translated by volunteers as part of the AAR Volunteer Programme. Their generous contributions allow us to spread our activities and ideas globally, through an ever-growing selection of our reports from the field.


Emergency Assistance for Syrian Refugees: Surveying the situation in Suruc District, South-Eastern Turkey

On September 19, the Islamic State began its attack on Ayn al-Arab (Kobane) in Northern Syria after having self-proclaimed the establishment of a caliphate and unrecognized state spanning across Iraq and Syria. In the time since, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that more than 170,000 Syrians have fled across the Turkish border and escaped into South Eastern Turkey.  Ms. Hiroko NAITO of AAR Japan, who has been conducting surveys of the refugees’ situation on the ground, provides this report. 

From west to east: Ayn al-Arab (also known as “Kobane” in Kurdish), Suruc, Sanliurfa and Viransehir

Sounds of bomber aircraft flying overhead are heard in the shelter

On October 15, AAR Japan conducted a survey in cooperation with Support to Life (STL), a Turkish partner organization. The sound of bomber aircraft flying overhead could be heard from time to time and, in the distance on the other side of the border, black smoke, which was likely to be the result of airstrikes carried out by the same aircraft, could be seen.

Smoke, presumably from airstrikes, rises near the Turkish-Syrian border. (October 15th, 2014)
Kobane is located in an area that has a large Kurdish population and, in fact, the majority of people fleeing from the ongoing offensive are also Kurdish.  Some Kurds came seeking help from their families and friends living in Turkey, but many have no one to turn to in the country and are living with other families in the same situation in rented houses or warehouses.  An elderly woman, who is now living as a refugee in a room with a leaking roof told us in tears: “I couldn’t bring anything with me from Syria. The only clothes I have are what I am wearing now. I’ve lost everything”.  

Extremely compromised living conditions

A family of Syrian refugees living in a tent. Many families have escaped into Turkey with their small children. (October 15th, 2014) 
The family in the photograph (left) escaped from Kobane and came to the camp approximately twenty days ago with their six children.  The mother is pregnant with her seventh child.  They currently live on the outskirts of the town in a tent that they bought for two hundred dollars. “Right now, we are relying on our savings to buy food in the city center. If we cannot find work, I don’t know for how long we can survive”.

Most families in these circumstances, while doing their utmost, are only able to obtain the minimum amount of food and other necessities, such as clothes, hygiene products and cooking utensils, are in dire shortage.  AAR Japan will continue to monitor the situation and distribute items of daily necessity, focussing on the Suruc District (Sanliurfa Province), the Sanliurfa City area and Viransehir.  We would like to ask for your warm support in order to deliver this desperately needed aid to those who need it most.    

A family living in a warehouse with leaking roof. In some places, three families live together in a single room of approximately 16.5 square meters.  Mr. Yuichiro YAMAMOTO of AAR Japan to the left. (October 15th, 2014)

A warehouse where several families are living together with the very few items that they brought with them from Syria. (October 15th, 2014)

*The activity outlined in this report is made possible by your kind donations and the generous funding of Japan Platform (JPF).

【Reporter】 Profile as of the date of publication

Ms. Hiroko NAITO, Tokyo Office. Ms NAITO has been stationed at AAR Japan’s Tokyo Headquarters as a public relations officer since November 2012.  Upon graduating from university, she went on to pursue International Development and Gender Studies at graduate school in the United Kingdom. She joined AAR Japan after having interned at NGOs and working in a private sector company that runs fair trade projects in Nepal among other experiences.  (Born in Niigata Prefecture, Japan)

Japanese-English translation by Ms Hanano Sasaki
English editing by Mr Peter Bungate

The article on this page has been translated by volunteers as part of the AAR Volunteer Programme. Their generous contributions allow us to spread our activities and ideas globally, through an ever-growing selection of our reports from the field.


East Japan: Libraries for People with Disabilities

Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) has been setting up libraries and providing books to facilities for people with disabilities that were struck by the Great East Japan Earthquake in the prefectures of Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate. The libraries greatly help to stabilize the minds of children with disabilities who are likely to have trouble adjusting to the new environment brought about by the earthquake.

 Large-sized picture books have enriched children's emotions – Fukushima

Ever since the large-sized picture books arrived, it has become a valued time for the staff members to read books aloud to the children.  The 'picture book room' in Fukushima supported by AAR Japan.


Assistance to Syrian Refugees: “Connecting Syrians with the people of Turkey”

Escaping the Syrian civil war that has been continuing since 2011, many Syrians are crossing the border, and taking refuge in neighboring countries. The Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) continues to support the Syrian refugees that have escaped into Turkey. Yoshifumi KAGEHIRA of Tokyo Headquarter reports.

Ms. Zakiye (center above) who attends the community center opened by AAR, and her four children. Sachiko KAREKI, AAR staff, to the top left of the photo. To the right is Muna Albadran, a Syrian refugee working for AAR's office in Turkey. (July 8th, 2014)


Afghanistan: AAR Deliver Basic Necessities to Homeless Victims of Landslides

Emergency Aid to Afghanistan

From April through May in 2014, torrential rains continued on and off to ravage 27 provinces and 123 districts in Afghanistan, setting off flooding and landslides. Throughout Afghanistan, as many as 125,000 people were affected by the disaster, and 14,440 houses were damaged or destroyed (Source: OCHA as of May 22).

Badakhshan Province is illustrated by the orange-painted area, and Argo District is the red dot on the map where AAR has recently provided emergency aid. The capital city, Kabul, is represented by a blue dot and is where the AAR office operates (Source: OCHA/ReliefWeb).


“Different for Sure, But We are All Just the Same.” AAR Japan Hosted a Children’s Summer Event

On August 20, 2014, AAR Japan hosted a summer event for primary school kids under the title "Different for sure, but we are all just the same; let's think over disabilities and international cooperation," at 3331 Arts Chiyoda of Chiyoda Ward in Tokyo. We held this event one time each in the morning and in the afternoon, and primary school pupils as well as preschool kids with their parents (34 people in total) participated in it.

It is the main theme of this event how to support persons with disabilities (PWDs) in developing countries. The objective was to make children understand that disabilities are not weak points or defects but are a matter of individual difference, like appearances and personalities. Moreover, our ambition was to provide an opportunity for the children to think about the particularly severe living conditions of PWDs in developing countries and to think over what they themselves can do for them .

For this event, some students from Shoei Girls' Senior High School helped us plan, organize, provide on-the-spot preparations and moderate the event.

Minori TAKITA, an intern of AAR Japan, reports on the event.


Myanmar: How the community is changed by the social participation of persons with disabilities

Since 1999, AAR Japan has been engaging in a variety of activities to increase opportunities of social participation for persons with disabilities (PWDs)in Myanmar,for example,through vocational guidance as well as educational and employment support. AAR Japan has supported efforts led by the PWDs to deepen local people’s understanding of “disabilities” through the “Community Based Rehabilitation” approach in the suburb of Yangon since 2009. Resident staff Akemi KITA reports how the behaviors and mindsets of the local people have changed during the 5 years that AAR Japan has provided assistance to PWDs.

International staff Akemi KITA (right), listening to the conversations in a printing shop established by a PWDs group.