Joint Statement: An appeal to end the suffering in Syria

More than 120 humanitarian organizations and United Nations agencies issued a joint appeal on January 21, 2016 urging the world to raise their voices and call for an end to the Syria crisis and to the suffering endured by millions of civilians. The appeal also outlines a series of immediate, practical steps that can improve humanitarian access and the delivery of aid to those in need inside Syria. You are invited to “sign” the appeal simply by liking, sharing, and retweeting it.


syrian children

Three years ago, the leaders of UN humanitarian agencies issued an urgent appeal to those who could end the conflict in Syria. They called for every effort to save the Syrian people. “Enough”, they said, of the suffering and bloodshed.

That was three years ago.

Now, the war is approaching its sixth brutal year. The bloodshed continues. The suffering deepens.

So today, we — leaders of humanitarian organisations and UN agencies — appeal not only to governments but to each of you — citizens around the world — to add your voices in urging an end to the carnage. To urge that all parties reach agreement on a ceasefire and a path to peace.

More than ever before, the world needs to hear a collective public voice calling for an end to this outrage. Because this conflict and its consequences touch us all.

It touches those in Syria who have lost loved ones and livelihoods, who have been uprooted from their homes, or who live in desperation under siege. Today, some 13.5 million people inside Syria need humanitarian assistance. That is not simply a statistic. These are 13.5 million individual human beings whose lives and futures are in jeopardy.

It touches the families who, with few options for a better future, set out on perilous journeys to foreign lands in search of refuge. The war has seen 4.6 million people flee to neighbouring countries and beyond.

It touches a generation of children and young people who — deprived of education and traumatized by the horrors they have experienced — increasingly see their future shaped only by violence.

It touches those far beyond Syria who have seen the violent repercussions of the crisis reach the streets, offices and restaurants closer to their homes.

And it touches all those around the world whose economic wellbeing is affected, in ways visible and invisible, by the conflict.

Those with the ability to stop the suffering can — and therefore should — take action now. Until there is a diplomatic solution to the fighting, such action should include:

  • Unimpeded and sustained access for humanitarian organizations to bring immediate relief to all those in need inside Syria
  • Humanitarian pauses and unconditional, monitored ceasefires to allow food and other urgent assistance to be delivered to civilians, vaccinations and other health campaigns, and for children to return to school
  • A cessation of attacks on civilian infrastructure — so that schools and hospitals and water supplies are kept safe
  • Freedom of movement for all civilians and the immediate lifting of all sieges by all parties

These are practical actions. There is no practical reason they could not be implemented if there is the will to do so.

In the name of our shared humanity… for the sake of the millions of innocents who have already suffered so much… and for the millions more whose lives and futures hang in the balance, we call for action now.


21 January 2016

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Chairperson, BRAC, Bangladesh
Zairulshahfuddin bin Zainal Abidin, Country Director, Islamic Relief Malaysia
Ryoko Akamatsu, Chairperson, Japan Committee for UNICEF
Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO, Plan International
Richard Allen, CEO, Mentor Initiative
Dr. Haytham Alhamwi, Director, Rethink Rebuild
Steen M. Andersen, Executive Director, Danish Committee for UNICEF
Barry Andrews, CEO, GOAL Ireland
Nancy A. Aossey, President and CEO, International Medical Corp
Bernt G. Apeland, Executive Director, Norwegian Committee for UNICEF
Dr. Mohamed Ashmawey, CEO, Islamic Relief Worldwide
Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General, CEO, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Lina Sergie Attar, co-founder and CEO, Karam Foundation
Carmelo Angulo Barturen, President, Spanish Committee for UNICEF
Gudrun Berger, Executive Director, Austrian Committee for UNICEF
Tomaž Bergoč, Executive Director, Slovenian Foundation for UNICEF
David Bull, Executive Director, United Kingdom Committee for UNICEF
Marie-Pierre Caley, CEO, ACTED
Adriano Campolina, Chief Executive, Actionaid
CARE Netherlands
Tineke Ceelen, Director, Stichting Vluchteling, Netherlands
Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization
Jonny Cline, Executive Director, The Israeli Fund for UNICEF
Sarah Costa, Executive Director, Women’s Refugee Commission
Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director, World Food Programme
Emese Danks, Executive Director, UNICEF Hungarian Committee Foundation
Maryanne Diamond, Chair, International Disability Alliance
Hisham Dirani, CEO, BINAA Organization for Development
Edukans, Netherlands
Jan Egeland, Secretary-General, Norwegian Refugee Council
Patricia Erb, President and CEO, Save the Children Canada
Sanem Bilgin Erkurt, Executive Director, Turkish National Committee for UNICEF
Pierre Ferrari, President and CEO, Heifer International
Amy Fong, Chief Executive, Save the Children Hong Kong
Justin Forsyth, CEO, Save the Children UK
Michel Gabaudan, President, Refugees International
Meg Gardinier, Secretary General, ChildFund Alliance
Global Call to Action against Poverty
Mark Goldring, Chief Executive, Oxfam Great Britain
Pavla Gomba, Executive Director, Czech Committee for UNICEF
Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Madalena Grilo, Executive Director, Portuguese Committee for UNICEF
Noreen Gumbo, Head of Humanitarian Programmes, Trócaire
Handicap International, Belgium
Abdullah Hanoun, CEO, Syrian Community of the South West UK
Heather Hayden, Chief Executive Officer, Save the Children New Zealand
Dr. Dirk Hegmanns, Regional Director Turkey/Syria/Iraq, Deutsche Welthungerhilfe
Anne-Marie Helland, General Secretary, Norwegian Church Aid
Anne Hery, Director for Advocacy and Institutional Relations, Handicap International
International Organization for Migration, Netherlands
W. Douglas Jackson, President and CEO, PROJECT C.U.R.E.
Wolfgang Jamann, Secretary General, Care International
Kevin Jenkins, President and CEO, World Vision International
Bergsteinn Jónsson, Executive Director, Icelandic National Committee for UNICEF
Benoit Van Keirsbilck, Director, DEI-Belgique
Thomas G. Kemper, General Secretary, General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church
Neal Keny-Guyer, Chief Executive Officer, Mercy Corps
Kerk in Actie, Netherlands Marja-Riitta Ketola, Executive Director, Finnish Committee for UNICEF
Peter Klansoe, Regional Director, Danish Refugee Council, Middle East North Africa region
Pim Kraan, Director, Save the Children Netherlands
Marek Krupiński, Executive Director, Polish National Committee for UNICEF
Dr. Hans Kuenzle, Chair, Swiss Committee for UNICEF
Anthony Lake, Executive Director, UNICEF
Jane Lau, Chief Executive, Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF
Lavinia Limón, President and CEO, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Jonas Keiding Lindholm, CEO Save the Children Denmark
Rosa G. Lizarde, Global Director, Feminist Task Force
Olivier Longue, CEO, Accion Contra el Hambre
John Lyon, President, World Hope International
Sébastien Lyon, Executive Director, French Committee for UNICEF
Dominic MacSorley, Chief Executive Officer, Concern Worldwide
Dirk Van Maele, Director, Plan België
Cécil Van Maelsaeke, Director, Tearfund, Belgium
Vivien Maidaborn, Executive Director, The New Zealand National Committee for UNICEF
Blanca Palau Mallol, President, Andorran Committee for UNICEF
Rev. John L. McCullough, President and CEO, Church World Service
Carolyn Miles, President and CEO, Save the Children USA
David Miliband, President and CEO, International Rescue Committee
Mr. Juraj Mišura, President, Slovak Committee for UNICEF
James Mitchum, Chief Executive Officer, Heart to Heart International
David Morley, President and CEO, Canadian UNICEF Committee
John Nduna, General Secretary, ACT Alliance Stephen
O’Brien, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund
Ignacio Packer, Secretary-General, Terre des Hommes International Federation
People in Need
Dato Dr Ahmad Faizal Perdaus, President, Mercy Malaysia
Plan, Norway
Peter Power, Executive Director, UNICEF Ireland
Sarina Prabasi, Chief Executive Officer, WaterAid America
Chris Proulx, President and CEO, LINGOS, United States
Dr. Jihad Qaddour, President, Syria Relief and Development
Red Cross, Netherlands
Curtis N. Rhodes Jr., International Director, Questscope
Michel Roy, Secretary General, Caritas International
Paolo Rozera, Executive Director, Italian Committee for UNICEF
Dr. Tessie San Martin, President and CEO, Plan International USA
Christian Schneider, Executive Director, German Committee for UNICEF
Rev. Thomas H. Smolich, S.J. International Director, Jesuit Refugee Service
Janti Soeripto, Interim CEO, Save the Children, International
SOS Kinderdorpen, Netherlands
Caryl M. Stern, President and CEO, United States Fund for UNICEF
Marie Soueid, Policy Counsel, Center for Victims of Torture
John Stewart, President, Australian Committee for UNICEF
Limited Odd Swarting, Chair, Swedish Committee for UNICEF
William L. Swing, Director General, International Organization for Migration
Florence Syevuo, Global Call to Action against Poverty, Kenya
Daigo Takagi, Association for Aid and Relief, Japan
Tearfund, UK
Terre des Hommes International Federation
Constantine M. Triantafilou, Executive Director and CEO, International Orthodox Christian Charities
Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary, World Council of Churches
Monique van ‘t Hek, Director, Plan Nederland
Dr. William Vendley, Secretary General, Religions for Peace
Pierre Verbeeren, Director, Medecins du Monde, Belgium
Damien Vincent, Executive Director, Belgium Committee for UNICEF
Sandra Visscher, Executive Director, Luxembourg Committee for UNICEF
Vrouwen tegen Uitzetting, Netherlands
Tove Wang, CEO, Save the Children Norway
David A. Weiss, President and CEO, Global Communities
Kathrin Wieland, CEO, Save the Children Germany
Jan Bouke Wijbrandi, Executive Director, Dutch Committee for UNICEF
Nancy E. Wilson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Relief International
Carolyn Woo, President and CEO, Catholic Relief Services
Daniel Wordsworth, President and CEO, American Refugee Committee
Samuel A. Worthington, CEO, InterAction
Leila Zerrougui, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
Mohammad Zia-ur-Rehman, Chief Executive, AwazCDS and Pakistan Development Alliance


European Refugee Crisis: HHI in Croatia

Refugee Family

An aid worker helps a refugee mother and child pick some donated clothing items in a refugee camp in Croatia.


UPDATE: HHI continues to provide aid for thousands of refugees in Europe.  In January 2016, HHI  shipped 10,000 blankets to camps in Serbia.  Several thousand more, along with more aid and supplies, will be sent soon.


Sept. 2015 – HHI responded to the refugee crisis unfolding in Europe.  An initial shipment of aid went to Greece and HHI placed a team on the ground in Croatia, working with relief agencies and partner orgs to coordinate delivering more aid.

Our team visited temporary camps erected along the Croatia/Serbian border, reporting back that although refugees rotate through every 24-36 hours the camps are overflowing capacity.

Support HHI & Global Refugee Aid

Most of the refugees they encountered are coming from places like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.  They’ve made their way from these war-torn regions into Greece, then up into Serbia and then cross over into Croatia for processing, before moving on further into Europe.

Refugee Processing

Refugees await processing in large tents in a camp along the Croatia/Serbia border.


Relief Aid Shipped

So far, HHI has sent a shipment of 9,000 HHI Care Kits to help with this crisis.  The aid is en route to Greece and the International Medical Corps which will distribute the hygiene kits to refugees there.  Watch the video to see the first shipment being loaded onto a FedEx truck at our Operations Hub.


You can help with this relief effort. Please donate now.

Support Global Refugee Aid





Refugee Crisis Builds in Haiti

Since mid-June 2015, Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent have been pouring over the border into Haiti, fleeing the political climate in the Dominican Republic and the spectre of potential deportation.  Our Haiti medical teams are helping these refugees.

Haitians flee new immigration rules. Photo by Joshua Partlow / The Washington Post


The numbers vary tremendously.  As of mid-July, the Haitian government states about 20,000 have crossed over in the past month. The Dominican Republic government says more than 40,000 have left.  Whatever the true number, it’s a lot.  Now, approximately 1,100 of these new refugees are currently seeking shelter and aid in a region where Heart to Heart International medical teams normally operate clinic sites.


The Situation

This movement of people stems from recent political decisions in the Dominican Republic, the country that jointly occupies the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.  The long history between these island neighbors has been periodically tumultuous.  And, for a very long time, Haitians have gone to the Dominican Republic seeking work and a better life.

In 2013, the Dominican Republic’s Supreme Court ruled that people born between 1929 and 2010 in the country to non-citizen parents did not qualify as Dominican citizens. The decision effectively stripped tens of thousands of people of their nationality retroactively. – USA TODAY


The court ruling has been accused of rendering hundreds of thousands of people born in the Dominican Republic as “state-less”.  Following the ruling, the government created a process to allow people to prove they belong, to prove they are citizens.  The deadline to apply was June 17, 2015.  With it came veiled and overt threats of forced deportations.

While the Dominican Republic government states they have not begun any formal expulsions of undocumented Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent, anywhere between 20,000 and 45,000 people have left – finding their own way or using government provided ‘voluntary’ transport – and crossed the Haitian border into the unknown.

Waiting in the Shade at Tete-a-l'eau Refugee Camp

Waiting in the shade at Tete-a-l’Eau Refugee Camp


Into the Desert

This is far southeast Haiti.  Here, along the border, the landscape is more desert-like than tropical Caribbean.  It’s hot and humid, but also dusty and dry.  It’s covered in scrub brush and cactus.  It is a harsh environment in the best of conditions.

Tens of thousands have crossed at other points along the north/south running border, and approximately 2,700 crossed in the area of Anse-à-Pitres, a small remote border town. Refugees who’ve come across here are directed to two camps – Tete-a-l’Eau (Tetalo) & Pascado.  These camps are a hodgepodge of rapidly made stick frame huts, some simply covered in cardboard, built on ground that has been burned clear.

A non-Haitian style hut in Tete-a-l'Eau refugee camp.

A non-Haitian style hut in Tete-a-l’Eau refugee camp.


Many of these refugees grew up in the DR, some were born there, and others are more recent immigrants seeking work, mostly hard labor jobs like cutting sugar cane.  Some have no connection to Haiti, other than their lineage.  Heart to Heart International social workers from the Kore Fanmi project recently conducted a survey of the people in these camps.  Here’s some of what they found:

  • In Pascado camp about a third were under the age of 14
  • In Tete-a-l’eau camp about 70% were born or grew up in the DR
  • More than half of those in Tete-a-l’eau had nowhere to go in Haiti

A few hundred do move back and forth across the border for work and to check on their homes and gardens, and then return seeking perceived safety and shelter on the Haitian side.

HHI-H's Christophe Rodrigue Addressing the Crowd at Tetalo Refugee Camp-1

Heart to Heart’s country director Christophe Rodrigue (in red shirt) addresses refugees in the Tete-a-l’Eau camp.


HHI Provides Aid

Our Haitian Medical Teams have visited these camps a handful of times on top of their normal clinic duties, providing care as they can in this remote region.  HHI has also taken on the task of funding and coordinating food for the two camps for approximately two months.  We’re also working on providing more and longer lasting services for the refugees by coordinating with other NGOs, aid groups and government agencies.

So far, our staff in Haiti reports that there appears to be no immediate end to this crisis.  We don’t know how long these camps may stay, or how many more people will arrive.  We do know that no matter why or what is making people cross the border – they need our help.

People are in crisis. We are helping.



More Photos from Refugee Camps on Haiti’s Border

Community leader Yvon Jean-Boni (on left) & Heart to Heart's Dr. Jackenson Davilmar at Tete-a-l'Eau Refugee Camp

Community leader Yvon Jean-Boni (on left) & Heart to Heart International’s Dr. Jackenson Davilmar at Tete-a-l’Eau Refugee Camp.


Burning the Underbrush at Pascado Refugee Camp

Underbrush burns at the Pascado refugee camp site in preparation of building more shelters.


Cardboard 'hut' at Pascado Refugee Camp

Cardboard covered hut at Pascado Refugee Camp.


Huts under Construction at Tetalo Refugee Camp-3

Stick frame huts under construction at the Tete-a-l’Eau Refugee Camp.


Backdrop of the Far Wall of the River bordering the DR at Tetalo Refugee Camp

The Tete-a-l’Eau refugee camp under a river bluff marking the border with the Dominican Republic.


A Crowd is Gathering at Tetalo Refugee Camp-2

A crowd gathers to listen to HHI’s Haiti country director in the Tete-a-l’Eau refugee camp.