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Car bomb hits Syrian town of Atmeh near Turkish borderTwo hospitals are damaged including the Hand in Hand for Syria hospital for women and children A car bomb exploded in the Syrian town of Atmeh near the Turkish border on Sunday morning, 23 February 2014. Initial reports suggest that 50 people were injured and 14 have died in the bomb blast which happened near a field hospital owned by the manager of Orient Television. This hospital suffered significant damage and loss of life and has had to close. A second hospital in the area that provides specialist care for women and children was also hit by the blast. The facility, run by the British charity Hand in Hand for Syria, suffered damage to its pharmacy, children’s wards and neonatal unit. Some of the patients in the hospital at the time were hurt but the hospital remains open and all children injured in the bomb blast have been brought in for treatment. Fadi Aldairi, Operations Director for the charity said: “We awoke to the appalling news this morning that one of our hospitals in Syria had been hit in a car bomb attack. We were lucky that there weren't any fatalities but the damage to the hospital will cost thousands of pounds to repair and will mean that some of the units will have to be temporarily suspended. This is a terrible blow for Syrian women and children because our facility is the only one offering specialist care in Atmeh and it was already significantly over-subscribed. Now it will be even harder to meet the demand in the area”. Atmeh is home to Syria’s largest internal refugee camp with an estimated 30,000 people living there. Hand in Hand for Syria has opened six hospitals in Syria including the women and children’s facility in Atmeh; the charity also provides medication and medical supplies to more than 100 other medical facilities across Syria. Since the conflict in Syria started, around half of the country’s hospitals have been either damaged or destroyed, with ambulances, medical staff and facilities being deliberately and systematically targeted. Field hospitals now routinely provide all medical care across large parts of Syria. For more information and to arrange an interview please contact email@example.com.
Welcome cash pledged for Syria but next step needs to be how to improve aid accessYesterday in Kuwait, by invitation, Hand in Hand for Syria’s operations director, Mr Fadi Aldairi, attended the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, chaired by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and hosted by the Emir of Kuwait, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah.9.3 million Syrian people (around half of the country’s population) are now in urgent need of humanitarian aid, according to the UN, which announced that it will need $6.5 billion for Syria in 2014. By the end of the conference, $2.4 million of that sum had already been pledged. Hand in Hand for Syria was one of only a handful of charities active inside Syria which were invited to attend the conference. Mr Aldairi used the opportunity to talk to Baroness Valerie Amos, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief co-ordinator, as well as foreign ministers from around the world (including the assistant to the US Secretary of State, John Kerry) about the increasing difficulties faced by aid agencies operating inside Syria. He described the desperate situation of civilians living under siege in places like Yarmouk, Moadamiya and Homs. Mr Aldairi commented: “We are grateful to all those countries who continue to support the Syrian people — including the UK, which pledged a further £100m at the conference. But Syrians need more than money: millions of them are being denied access to aid, and we urgently need the international community and the UN to focus on changing this situation.” Mr Aldairi also met with the UK international development secretary, Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, to discuss how the British government can further help Syrians living in the UK (such as international students facing financial hardship). He pressed the need for Britain to review its strict policy on allowing both British and non-British citizens to bring their families from Syria into the country, given that the UK has one of the lowest rates for according visas. The British foreign secretary, William Hague, today announced he would be meeting with Baroness Amos about how the UK can help the UN improve access to aid inside Syria. Notes to editors For press enquiries, please contact the media team on firstname.lastname@example.org Hand in Hand for Syria is UK registered charity number 1145862, established in 2011 at the start of the Syrian uprising. It is a non-political organisation funded by individual donations. The charity's aim is to provide medical and humanitarian assistance to civilians affected by the conflict in Syria.
Swindon pensioner knits 400 jumpers for Syrian childrenA 92 year old woman in Swindon has knit 400 jumpers for children in Syria. The pensioner, who would like to be known only as Doris, sent her handiwork in to an appeal from charity Hand in Hand for Syria. The ‘Big Winter Aid Drop’ appeal called on people all over the UK to donate items such as children's wear and basic medicines to be sent to war-torn Syria. Volunteer Caroline McGregor co-ordinated the Swindon collection point for the Big Winter Aid Drop. “Doris was knitting jumpers for a charity which stopped sending clothes out and her contact there suggested she send them to the Big Winter Aid Drop instead,” says Caroline. “She was really happy about the jumpers going to help children who are facing a very cold winter in Syria. She declined to receive any gifts of thanks from us, all she would accept were more donations of wool so she could continue to knit and send jumpers through Hand in Hand for Syria.” This was the second such national aid appeal organised by the British-based charity, and over 160 tonnes of aid were donated which were shipped to Syria in November in time for the winter. “We were really taken-aback by Doris' generous efforts to help us; but she is not alone - we have just seen a phenomenal response to our appeals to the public to donate things like over-the-counter medicines, blankets, nappies and new children’s clothes,” says Iman Murphy, a trustee of the charity. “Unfortunately it is a harsh winter in Syria and many of the people there are freezing and going hungry. It's too late to try and ship more clothes or blankets out there now. What we need urgently is for people to donate money to our winter appeal so that we can buy blankets, heaters and shelter for people who have been living with war for nearly three years.” This winter is forecast to be the coldest in the region for 100 years. With the recent onset of snow, many people will not be able to survive the coming months, in particular the large number of injured people, and the 6.5 million who have been displaced within Syria. Most international aid agencies cannot reach these people as aid distribution inside Syria is hampered both by government bureaucracy and the security situation, and now the weather will prove an additional hurdle. Hand in Hand for Syria specialises in distributing aid inside Syria and is able to reach people in around 90% of the country. The Winter Appeal will enable the charity to buy urgently needed aid from Turkey which can be handed out quickly inside Syria and help save lives. Please see www.handinhandforsyria.org.uk for details on donating or the charity's dedicated Just Giving page on http://www.justgiving.com/HIH-winter. Notes to editors For more information please email email@example.com. Hand in Hand for Syria has expressed its condolences to the family of Dr Abbas Khan, the British doctor found dead in Syria this week. The charity continues to run and staff hospitals in Syria. It has opened six hospitals in Damascus, Idlib and Deir Alzour and supplies medical aid and equipment to 78 field hospitals around Syria. The conflict in Syria started in March 2011. The UN has called it “the greatest humanitarian crisis in modern history” and reports 2.3 million refugees have left the country and 1 in 3 Syrians require humanitarian assistance. Hand in Hand for Syria is UK registered charity number 1145862, established in 2011 at the start of the Syrian uprising. It is a non-political organisation funded by individual donations. Its aim is to provide medical and humanitarian assistance to civilians affected by the conflict in Syria.