Paris museum organizes toy collection for Syrian refugee children

News Stories, 25 April 2013

© UNHCR/A.Akad
Aid workers and Syrian children at the Nizip 1 camp try out some of the toys sent from Paris.

GAZIANTEP, Turkey, April 25 (UNHCR) Refugee children from Syria have few reasons to smile. The two-year-long conflict in their homeland has brought great suffering to them and their parents. But on Wednesday in Turkey, one group of Syrian refugee children received something to bring a small bit of sunshine into their lives a consignment of 60 boxes of toys sent to them by children in France.

The toys were collected by the Quai Branly Museum in Paris with the help of the UN refugee agency and the Fédération des Associations d'Anciens du Scoutisme (FAAS).

The charity group, Aviation Sans Frontières (Aviation without Borders), organized and bore the cost of flying the toys out to the southern Turkey city of Gaziantep, where they were collected and taken to the kindergarten and nursery schools of the Nizip 1 and Nizip 2 refugee camps. The schools provide an education to 736 Syrian children aged between three and five years old.

"The children were very excited and enjoyed playing with the toys," said UNHCR Public Information Associate Selin Unal, who was present at the distribution. "The Turkish authorities, which administer the camps, conveyed their thanks to UNHCR and the partners involved in the organization of this project."

Over the past year, French schoolchildren have been taking part in workshops at the Quai Branly Museum, which specializes in the indigenous art, culture and civilizations of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.

In what has become an annual campaign, the Parisian children were invited to bring one of their own toys in good condition and then make another toy from recyclable materials. At the same time, the children learn about the situation of refugee children of their own age, who have been forced out of their homes by war or persecution.

This year, thanks to a large mobilization by the FAAS, which is affiliated to the International Scout and Guide Fellowship, more than 2,000 toys were collected. Staff from Aviation Sans Frontières, UNHCR and the museum helped to pack the toys.

Turkey is host to an estimated 400,000 Syrian refugees, many of them children. These include some 192,000 refugees living in government-run camps in eight provinces and more than 200,000 refugees in urban areas. Between 300 and 400 new Syrian refugees arrive every day in Turkey.

The Syrian refugees are provided with shelter, food, health assistance, security and education, including vocational courses. The humanitarian response to the Syrian refugee influx is coordinated by the Prime Minister's Disaster Relief Agency, with operational support from the Turkish Red Crescent and other agencies. UNHCR provides technical advice, support and non-food relief items.

By Selin Unal in Gaziantep, Turkey and William Spindler in Paris, France

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Beyond the Border

In 2010, the Turkish border with Greece became the main entry point for people attempting by irregular methods to reach member states of the European Union, with over 132,000 arrivals. While some entered as migrants with the simple wish of finding a better life, a significant number fled violence or persecution in countries such as Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq and Somalia. The journey is perilous, with many reports of drowning when people board flimsy vessels and try to cross the Mediterranean Sea or the River Evros on the border between Greece and Turkey. The many deficiencies in the Greek asylum system are exacerbated by the pressure of tens of thousands of people awaiting asylum hearings. Reception facilities for new arrivals, including asylum-seekers, are woefully inadequate. Last year, UNHCR visited a number of overcrowded facilities where children, men and women were detained in cramped rooms with insufficient facilities. UNHCR is working with the Greek government to improve its asylum system and has called upon other European states to offer support.

Beyond the Border

Muazzez Ersoy

Muazzez Ersoy

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

As world concern grows over the plight of hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrians, including more than 200,000 refugees, UNHCR staff are working around the clock to provide vital assistance in neighbouring countries. At the political level, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres was due on Thursday (August 30) to address a closed UN Security Council session on Syria.

Large numbers have crossed into Lebanon to escape the violence in Syria. By the end of August, more than 53,000 Syrians across Lebanon had registered or received appointments to be registered. UNHCR's operations for Syrian refugees in Tripoli and the Bekaa Valley resumed on August 28 after being briefly suspended due to insecurity.

Many of the refugees are staying with host families in some of the poorest areas of Lebanon or in public buildings, including schools. This is a concern as the school year starts soon. UNHCR is urgently looking for alternative shelter. The majority of the people looking for safety in Lebanon are from Homs, Aleppo and Daraa and more than half are aged under 18. As the conflict in Syria continues, the situation of the displaced Syrians in Lebanon remains precarious.

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

UNHCR: Syrian Refugee numbers top three millionPlay video

UNHCR: Syrian Refugee numbers top three million

The number of refugees in Syria's intensifying crisis passes 3 million people, amid reports of horrifying conditions inside the country. Iman and her family were displaced four times inside Syria before finally seeking refuge in Lebanon.
The Fight for Survival – Syrian Women AlonePlay video

The Fight for Survival – Syrian Women Alone

Lina has not heard from her husband since he was detained in Syria two years ago. Now a refugee in Lebanon, she lives in a tented settlement with her seven children.
Syria: A Heartbreaking Human TragedyPlay video

Syria: A Heartbreaking Human Tragedy

As the conflict in Syria grinds on, UNHCR and its partners are calling on donors to dig deep to help refugees and host communities.