Volunteers from St Vincent de Paul have joined others from various local churches in Ballymena to send aid to war ravaged Aleppo in Syria.
The container of life-saving medical supplies is the first of its kind to be sent to the Syrian city from Ireland and Ballymena man, Aidan Crawford, who is the regional president of SVP, explained that without even basic healthcare, the people of Aleppo are in dire need of medical aid.
“There are no working hospitals in Aleppo as every one of them has been bombed so they only have makeshift facilities to care for thousands of people,” he said.
“There are also very few doctors left in the city and those that remain aren’t permitted by the government to buy any medical equipment. So the people of Aleppo really have nothing – even small things that we take for granted here like plasters and syringes are unavailable, as well as life-saving medicines which are simply non-existent.”
Volunteers from SVP and the local churches have travelled the length and breadth of the island to source supplies.
Aidan added: “We have been trying to gather up as much medical aid as possible. We are particularly grateful to the Health Trusts in NI who have donated equipment which is outdated here but will be vital in Aleppo. We also worked in partnership with ‘Meds for Kids Northern Ireland’ to receive wheelchairs which have been refurbished by inmates of Maghaberry prison.
“We have had great support from the public and that has enabled us to fill this literally life-saving container with just about everything medical-related you could think of from bandages to scanners and operating equipment.”
Although this is the 15th shipment of aid that SVP has sent from Northern Ireland to help refugees, this is the first to go directly into Aleppo.
“Up until recently it has been impossible to get aid into Aleppo due to the heavy shelling and bombing taking place,” said Aidan. “However, we now have the opportunity to reach those most in need and we are working with a charity in Syria who will distribute the aid when it arrives in about 25 days.”
Aidan added: “Without the support of the public and local community and church groups, all of this this wouldn’t be possible. Your help makes a huge difference.”
For those wishing to support the aid for refugees, the charity is in particular need of non-perishable food items as well as necessities for children such as kids’ paracetamol, nappies and sudocream. To get in touch with the team, please contact SVP overseas volunteer Lisa Maria on 07590387703 or Aidan Crawford on firstname.lastname@example.org.