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On 19 August, we are celebrating World Humanitarian Day

Our thoughts go out to all the people living in war-torn countries, where  danger can come at any moment. Every day becomes a struggle for food, water, shelter, and life. We support many initiatives that allow, even in the slightest way, to meet those basic needs and that provide protection and safe haven for people.

Here are a few stories about  people affected by war. Thanks to the support of Polish Aid and our project partners, they can start rebuilding their lives.

Olga lives in the eastern part of Ukraine in a small, rundown house in Nowoselice Persze. Owning a house was her dream. They bought the house in order to have a place they could call their own. However, when the war came they had to flee and leave their home behind. Due to incessant firing one of her daughters began to experience panic attacks. She was scared of every knock and creak. Leaving the house was necessary to preserve the child’s  sanity. Not too long ago the family moved back to the house, which  after 2 years of abandonment was in complete ruin. Now she is trying to renovate it on her own, but it’s not easy. Olga is raising four kids by herself: an 11 year-old daughter, an 8 year-old son, a 4 year-old daughter and a year-and-a- half-old baby, Alona, her youngest. The two oldest kids attend school, and the younger daughter is in the kindergarten. Olga’s mother helps her around the house. Her husband has left her. He moved to a big city to find work. He returns home from time to time, but only for a few days. He doesn’t support the family in any way. The burden of running the house rests on Olga’s shoulders. She is a beneficiary of the social programs offered by Polish Humanitarian Action and Polish Aid. Their legal staff assists her in collecting documents needed to file for alimony. Additionally, Olga receives financial assistance to cover her most basic needs. What is left she invests in a small potato field, which is her family’s main source of food and income.

Olga with her youngest daughter Alona in front of their house. Author: Grzedzinski

The war in Syria, which started in 2012, continues unabated. The armed conflict forced Shahin to flee his country. In 2013, his family, four adults and seven children, relocated to Iraqi Kurdistan right next to the Turkish border. His and his brother’s families live together in an unfinished house in one of the poorest districts of Zakho. There was no room for them in the refugee camp. They have no stable jobs or money to buy essential, life-saving items. Right now, they must find a source of income to pay the rent and buy food. Shahin’s family is one of the 720 families receiving financial assistance under a Polish Humanitarian Action project funded by Polish Aid.

Shahin and his brother with their families. Author: Karolina Suchecka

Batool Foud Alnasaf is a refugee from Daraa, Syria. For the past five years, she’s been living with her husband and children in Zarqa, Jordan. She works in a health center co-financed by Polish Medical Mission, which runs a project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Batool is a social worker, she regularly goes to see  her fellow Syrian refugees and poor Jordanians and encourages them to visit the medical center. She advises them on possible treatments for the sick and encourages pregnant women to get check-ups. She has met  many women, who, like herself, had to flee their homes. It fills her with sadness to see how the war has ravaged people’s  lives. She is glad that through her work she can help other refugees.

Batool as a social worker. Author: Polish Medical Mission

Enaam fled the Syrian city of Daraa with her father, husband and their kids. Before that she had lost three children. One of her daughters suffered serious burns, which require surgery. She currently lives in Mafraq in the northern part Jordan, where she is starting to rebuild her life. Her husband was relocated to the Za’atari refugee camp, inhabited by over 80 000 Syrians, because he had no  work permit. Her husband is allowed to visit his family once every two months. Enaam was left with five kids and an elderly father, who requires  open heart surgery. And still, against all these odds, she was able to send her kids to school. Thanks to the support received form Caritas Poland she can pay the rent while Caritas Jordan finances Enaam’s daughter’s medical skin treatment.

Enaam telling her story to MFA workers. Author: Caritas Poland

The place in which Shifa, a 15-year-old girl supported by the Polish Center of International Aid, lives is known to just a few. A closed corridor allows her to see everyone, who tries to come near her home. For Shifa this is essential because she is now in hiding. She has crossed the Lebanese border illegally. She left Syria with her mother and her sister-in-law. Crossing the border illegally could have cost her her life. Even now, when the situation on the Syrian border is fairly stable, Syrian border guards still open fire on refugees who are trying to escape.To get to Lebanon, the women had to cross a river in winter time, when the temperature dropped below zero. Shifa was pregnant at the time and her baby was additionally at risk. She had left her parents behind. Her husband was taken away by the Syrian army and she has had no contact with him ever since. For the first few months, Shifa stayed with her mother-in-law’s Lebanese family, but after a while she had to move out. The house was often visited by men. Shifa recalled that she was abused multiple times, despite being married and pregnant. She decided to run away and moved in with another elderly Syrian woman in a rented garage. She took care of the lady until her death. She tried to get a job many times, but nobody was willing to hire a single mother full-time. Her biggest concern is securing money to pay for the rent and to buy baby formula. She cannot go back to Syria because the crossing point is a mine field, while trying to return through legal entry points would result in her arrest.

Shifa with her baby in the rented room. Author: Polish Center for International Aid

Poland actively supports victims of armed conflicts around the world. Last year, our country allocated over EUR 38 million to humanitarian assistance. Polish humanitarian aid is focused on  the Middle East countries and Ukraine. Our assistance goes to refugees and the most vulnerable local communities in the host countries. Over 135 thousand people receive Polish Aid. In Lebanon, Poland supports humanitarian projects that  provide shelter, means of survival during wintertime and access to health care. In Iraqi Kurdistan, we provide basic medical services and assistance in crisis situations. In Jordan, we give refugees shelter and provide social and medical assistance in eastern Ukraine.

On  11 December 2008, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution designating 19 August as the World Humanitarian Day #WorldHumanitarnianDay. On this day, we pay tribute to the people, who risk their lives daily to deliver humanitarian assistance to victims of armed conflicts and natural disasters. We pay our respects to all the people, who sacrificed their lives delivering humanitarian aid.

Want to learn more? Please visit: https://www.worldhumanitarianday.org/

Twitter: @polskapomoc


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