NEW YORK, NY (October 29, 2015) – An exploratory team of Helping Hand for Relief and Development USA (HHRD), the overseas relief branch of ICNA concluded a visit to Southern Europe last week to assess the ongoing refugee crisis.
The team joined by ICNA Secretary General Muhammad Tariqur Rahman and led by HHRD Director of International Emergency Relief Irfan Khurshid visited the border region of Macedonia and Greece where 4 to 7,000 refugees are arriving daily where they board trains to Serbia. They also visited Kosovo, Albania, and Turkey, which has taken in half of the 4 million Syrian refugees. There are over 3 million refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries are now in Turkey, Macedonia and other parts of Europe.
“The arrival of such a large population of refugees is putting an extraordinary strain on the local infrastructure” said Rahman who along with Khurshid had extensive relief experience in the region during the Kosovo war.
“With Allah’s Will, we will soon establish a regional office to coordinate its efforts” said HHRD President Farrukh Raza.
The team also visited Turkish refugee camps at the border with Syria. The camp is run by the government and has good facilities. Despite this, a majority of the refugees live in the Turkish cities. This is now creating enormous employment, housing and other burden on the local infrastructure. “Only 20,000 out of 50,000 Syrian children go to school”, said Rahman.
The HHRD team met 20 Syrian NGOs who are working among the refugees. The HHRD team also discussed the situation in a meeting with 15 Turkish NGOs in Istanbul. Food, blankets and other items were distributed by HHRD to over 5,000 refugees during this visit.
Existing HHRD projects in the region:
1. Orphan Support Program: Supporting over 1,300 Syrian refugee orphans.
2. Skills Development Program: More than 50 widows have received skills development training to help their families.
3. Seasonal Programs: Food ration distributions and gifts of new clothes and shoes for the families during Ramadan.
4. Global Zabiha Program: Udhiya (sacrificial) meat is distributed amongst the families who may not receive meat all year due to dire conditions.
5. Youth Empowerment Program: Youth from U.S. visited the Syrian Refugees to volunteer their time in assisting HHRD’s relief and development activities.
6. In Kind Gifts Program: Extensive in-kind program includes, medical supplies, clothes, and basic necessity items.