Emergency relief and reconstruction in Syria and Ukraine

Syria and Ukraine are clear examples of what it means when crises drag on, overlap with other crises, when people’s needs shift and how targeted aid can succeed in this context.

Olena (1st from r.) and her family fled from the Ukrainian war zone. Caritas helped them start a new life.

In Ukraine, there is no end to the war. The whole of 2023 was characterised by Russia’s destructive attacks, which increased sharply again at the turn of the year.

For many people in the region, what started as an acute emergency at the beginning of the war, with hundreds of thousands of refugees, developed into a permanent crisis. They have long had to come to terms with nightly bombing, destroyed infrastructure and power cuts.

Caritas Switzerland is constantly responding to the new challenges posed by the course of the war and adapts its aid to current needs.

Around 10 million Swiss francs were deployed in the projects last year. The main focus of the work in 2023 was along the frontline in the eastern part of the country, for example in the cities of Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Kherson and Odesa. Together with its partner organisations, Caritas gives financial support to families in those regions so they can make their wrecked homes at least partly habitable again with small repairs. It grants rent subsidies if families no longer have an income, and thus protects them against home- lessness. Moreover, it provides cash assistance so that people can meet their basic needs. An- other important aspect is the psychological care of traumatised people. In addition to emergency relief, Caritas focuses on helping families to build new income opportunities. Both help to stabilise people’s living conditions so that they become more resilient when faced with further changes. In this way, aid has a lasting effect.

Our support in figures

10

milion

francs were spent by Caritas Switzerland on projects in Ukraine

(2023)

© Valentyn Kliushnyk

Humanitarian aid

Living and surviving in Syria

For Syria, 2023 was a difficult year. Twelve years after the start of the war, the country has still not found peace.

Domestic and geopolitical interests make the civilian population a pawn in the hands of those in power. The military conflicts have not been resolved, the economy has largely broken down, sanctions paralyse trade, and galopping inflation causes prices to soar. More than 90 per cent of the people live in poverty and are in need of support. In such a fragile context, this is difficult to provide.

In the past year, Caritas Switzerland supported 84’626 people in the context of the Syria crisis. In ten regions, the local partner organisations Caritas Syria and GOPA (Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East) are engaged in helping people who are particularly in need of aid.

Our support in figures

84626

people

was supported by Caritas Switzerland in the Syrian crisis

(2023)

7,3

milion

francs were spent by Caritas Switzerland on projects in the Syrian crisis

(2023)

One priority is to support children from very poor families at school. At the same time, the families receive financial support for some months. This enables them to buy what they see as essential necessities, for example medicines, clothing, blankets or small solar power units. Psychological support is also part of the programme. The project enables and encourages participants to realise small business projects such as a sewing room or a mini-kiosk.

As if living and surviving weren’t already difficult enough, a severe earthquake shook the country on 6 February 2023. It caused ex- tensive damage, particularly in northern Syria: 6’392 people lost their lives, 11’829 were injured. 170’000 people suddenly no longer had a roof over their heads. People who had felt safe within their four walls despite the turmoil of war were robbed even of this constant by the quake. One woman affected in Aleppo summed it up like this:

«Our apartment was not affected, but our hope of a better life is broken.»Person affected in Aleppo

Due to its many years of working in the country, Caritas Switzerland was able to quickly help the earthquake victims, providing mattresses, blankets, food and emergency shelters through the partner organisations and assisting with repairs to shelters and living quarters. The aid provided to Syria in 2023 amounted to 7.3 million Swiss francs.

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© Hasan Belal

Header image: © Valentyn Kliushnyk