International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Crisis in Syria: The IRC's emergency response

Over 250,000 Syrians have fled into neighboring countries since the start of the the conflict in 2011.

Sanj Srikanthan, International Rescue Committee-UK's emergency field director, recently led an assessment into the needs of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Watch this interview with Sanj to hear how the IRC is responding to the crisis. (Posted October 2, 2012)

Video Transcription

Crisis in Syria. An interview with Sanj Srikanthan, IRC Emergency Field Director

SS: "I'm Sanj Srikanthan, the deputy Field Director based in the International Rescue Committee UK office.
I am based here providing support to the IRC UK work around the world, but I also deploy on emergencies as and when required and most recently that was in Lebanon."

What are the needs of refugees arriving in Lebanon?

SS: "As the winter approaches we need to start thinking about how cold it can get in Lebanon. It can approach 0 degrees centigrade. We have this idea that, because it is part of the Middle East, it is always going to be hot. Actually it is not, in the winter it can get extremely cold.

Some of them have got shelters. Some of them are sheltering in schools which are reopening, so they need to find other shelter. They are going to need tents, they need fuel, so we need to start thinking about that. 

They need livelihoods.  They need help in paying their rent, if they're renting accommodation in Lebanon. 
So there are a lot of issues around livelihoods, and one of the things that IRC’s doing, is sending a specialist on this, to look at how we can provide means around food, security and livelihoods."

Over half the refugees fleeing Syria are women and girls. Why are they particularly vulnerable?

SS: "The kind of violence, sexual and otherwise, against women and girls fleeing Syria is unprecedented. It’s something we never expected before we arrived.
And they are so tired and they are so lacking in other resources that they haven't got the time to even process the sort of things they've experienced. They are having to now find a livelihood for themselves and try to pay the rent and also think about what has happened to the men in their families, many of whom are still involved in the conflict in Syria."

What support do women and girl refugees need?

SS: "Specifically around women and girls we need to provide the sort of services that you would expect to see for survivors of rape, sexual violence, domestic abuse, and that is what we're not seeing universally provided to Syrian refugees."

How is the IRC responding?

SS: "The IRC has decided to act immediately. So currently the team is being formed, funding is being sourced and we're always looking to secure as much as possible to reach as many of those in need as possible. And we hope in the next week to deploy a team to Lebanon and start that work. 

Not only are we providing our own services but we can also assist other humanitarian organizations in providing a consistent and high standard of service for women and girls."

Over 250,000 refugees have fled Syria since the start of the conflict. It is estimated that this number will rise to 700,000 by the end of the year. Visit our Syria Crisis webpage to stay informed about the IRC's work supporting Syrian refugees.

Video transcription thanks to volunteers.  Interested in volunteering with the IRC? Learn about the various ways you can help.