Photo Credit: Atta Jabr / Flash 90
Syrian refugees at the Zaatari refugee camp in Northern Jordan.

The Britain-based World Jewish Relief humanitarian organization has just marked its one-year anniversary aiding more than 17,500 refugees in Greece and Turkey, including thousands of children.

The organization’s emergency appeal was launched in September 2015, according to a report released by WJR this week.

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It has provided 3,169 children with winter kits, including coats and blankets for children based in bitterly cold camps on the Turkish-Syrian border, and supplied 2,050 back-to-school kits helping refugee children and their families in Turkey achieve a basic lifestyle after having been uprooted from home and school.

World Jewish Relief also provided 4,837 people with vital medical care in Greece and 7,474 refugees with humanitarian essentials such as water, food and warm clothes in Greece, organization representatives say.

However, beyond the numbers, the report provides information about the organization’s work with individuals, telling for example the powerful story of Adnan*, a talented sixteen-year-old artist who, due to WJR is able to cultivate his talents. Adnan arrived in Lesbos together with his younger brother following a very difficult journey which included the loss of many family members. After being held in cramped conditions with other children, a new facility was set up to look after minors with medical and psychological support provided. After noticing Adnan’s artistic skills, staff encouraged him to use his talent, culminating in an art gallery in Lesbos exhibiting his drawings.

In total, the organization’s appeal has raised nearly £944,000, making it the second largest WJR appeal ever to be held, after the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. Donations are still welcome and will be spent on continuing refugee projects in Greece and Turkey. The projects come in the wake of an announcement by former Prime Minister David Cameron that the UK will resettle and house 20,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees by 2020.

World Jewish Relief created a program to help these refugees integrate, drawing on the agency’s past experience helping vulnerable Jews in the former Soviet Union, and relying on funds provided exclusively by private donors. World Jewish Relief is helping 1,000 of the 20,000 Syrian refugees find employment and integrate into life in the UK, beginning with a pilot program in Bradford aiming to help 50 Syrian refugees to find work.

The pilot program currently supports 27 refugees. “One year ago, a photo of a three-year-old Syrian boy named Alan Kurdi washed up on a beach, shocked the world into action. Thanks to the British Jewish community’s outstanding generosity, over the past year, we’ve made a difference to 17,557 lives,” said Paul Anticoni, WJR CEO. The organization is a coalition partner of OLAM, an organization of 46 Israeli and Jewish NGOs raising awareness of the importance of supporting the world’s most vulnerable communities.

*name changed to protect his identity

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