Latvia supports UNHCR’s regional response to the Syria crisis

Latvia’s contribution of EUR 50 000 to the Syria crisis is an important expression of international solidarity in these times of unprecedented humanitarian needs and global displacement.

Syrian refugees Firaz and his son Uday collect recyclables in the vicinity of the Turkish city, Izmir. ©UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

In its sixth year, the Syria conflict has claimed more than 250,000 lives and forced almost 5 million people to flee to neighbouring countries, while 6.6 million people have fled their homes but still remain inside Syria

Firaz and his family are among the many Syrians who have been forced to flee the horrors of the Syria conflict. When their home in Aleppo was destroyed by bombs, the family sought refuge in Turkey, and now live in Izmir. Firaz, 25, is missing part of his right arm and three fingers on the left hand, which he lost in an industrial accident as a boy. In Syria he received a disability pension, but now he must work on the streets to feed his kids – a fate he courageously accepts.

“This is my future – hard work to feed my kids. This reality is my future.”

Firaz, 25, Syrian husband and father who found refuge in Turkey.

Uday, his seven-year-old son, sometimes misses out on school to help because of his father’s handicap – together they crawl into garbage bins to collect cartons, plastic and cans to sell. Despite his young age Uday does not complain, aware of the serious situation of his family.

UNHCR has helped Firaz and his family with vouchers, clothes and blankets. The story of the family’s flight gives a glimpse of the urgent needs of the millions of displaced Syrians, who UNHCR assists by distributing life-saving assistance in Syria and neighbouring countries. Such assistance include provision of shelter, access to water and healthcare and, as Firaz and his family have received, cash or vouchers for medicine and food. However, since the needs are enormous UNHCR, its partners and government authorities in the region are struggling to provide even basic support and protection, which is why Latvia’s continuous contributions to UNHCR are crucial.

“I want to work with my father because both his hands are cut off.”

Uday, 7, Syrian child who found refuge in Turkey.

Firaz has been identified as a vulnerable person because of his disability by ASAM, a Turkish NGO that works with UNHCR. When protecting refugees, supporting national protection systems and assisting refugees with legal advice, UNHCR particularly focuses on vulnerable persons such as people with disabilities and women and children, who face serious protection concerns, e.g. sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and child rights violations

Latvia has been contributing to UNHCR regularly since the beginning of 2001 and since 2012, Latvia is also providing an annual unearmarked core contribution of EUR 15 000 allowing UNHCR to use the funds where they are needed the most. In 2015 Latvia contributed with EUR 115,000 (USD 127,075) in total, of which EUR 100,000 was for the Syria and Ukraine crisis.

If you are interested in reading more about UNHCR and partners’ response plans for the Syria emergency: