The conflict in Syria has caused the worst humanitarian emergency of our lifetime, and one of the largest refugee crises in history. The ongoing war in Syria has left more than 11 million people displaced, while 500,000 are feared dead or missing. A further one million civilians have been injured.
The war has now been raging longer than the second world war. Seven years on, the crisis is regularly at the forefront of the media, but often slips out of focus again. However, people desperately need help, irrespective of whether the spotlight is on them or not.
The statistics and news reports are too grim to bear, which is why One Family is determined to be there, and make a difference.
The power of technology
Amid the terror of war, we believe that the power of technology can offer real hope, and help change shattered lives for the better. For this reason, One Family is harnessing and exploring digital tools and technology such as mobile, drones, robotics, 3D printing, cloud-computing, and blockchain to assist Syrians with frontline lifesaving emergency care.
Technology has made global knowledge accessible, enabling communities to collaborate and develop innovations to support refugees. Engineers, scientists, humanitarians, educators and others are working together to offer solutions that can save lives and bring hope to refugees.
We believe that by bringing together international actors, leveraging technological innovation and empowering local communities can help people affected by the conflict in Syria can build more prosperous futures.
There’s a long way to go before the refugee crisis can be solved – but we believe that technology can help create and accelerate positive change.
One Family’s response
One Family is working across industries to leverage existing technology and co-develop new initiatives to support refugees.
We are working with frontline, grassroots organisations and supporting them to leverage simple as well as breakthrough technology to save lives and help people to have better lives in the long term.
Our current four areas of focus are:
1. Life-saving medical care
Airstrikes on hospitals have become routine in Syria, and is one of the biggest factors driving civilians out of their country. To save patients and staff, entire hospitals have been moved underground into basements and caves. Within these military-like fortifications, surgeons attempt to keep operating, even as the bombs rain down overhead.
Across the country, only 48% of healthcare facilities remain fully functional – a devastating shortfall in the care needed. The barbaric use of chemical weapons – namely mustard, chlorine, and sarin gases – on Syrian people has piled further pressure on already overwhelmed hospitals.
One Family is supporting a hospital in rural North Aleppo, which serves a local population of 170,000. With our help, the hospital can buy critical equipment including a good-quality generator to power the wards, plus an incubator to keep premature babies alive and ambulances to safely transport injured civilians.
2. Providing prosthetic limbs
Tens of thousands of people have lost limbs due to the Syrian conflict. A deeply traumatic experience, the sudden loss of vital limbs leaves amputees frightened about their future. Despite the urgent need for prosthetics to help the injured resume their lives, they are scarcely available, exorbitantly expensive, or often not fit for purpose.
One Family aims to make a difference to amputees by providing access to high-standard, low-cost prosthetics, which will enable the wounded to regain their physical integrity and autonomy.
By focusing on new technology, we will be able to carve a high-quality limb in only a few hours, rather than three days, which the process currently takes.
Not only do prosthetics offer fresh hope for those injured by war, but physical independence means many will be able to return to work and bring in life-saving income to struggling families. Children will also be free to enjoy playing games and sports once again.
3. Saving lives at seas
Many Syrians make the so-called ‘journey of death’ across the sea from their homeland to Europe and beyond. They call the vessels ‘boats of death’ and refer to the smugglers as ‘agents of death.’ But as the war rages on, the boats keep coming.
Despite many organisations shifting away from sea-rescue due to the political climate and other complications, people still make dangerous journeys in overcrowded boats every day. Dinghies often run aground on rocks and then sink or capsize. Smugglers frequently abandon refugees, forcing them into the water at gunpoint. Many become stuck on tiny islands, often impossible to reach.
One Family supports using search and rescue boats 24/7 to prevent more deaths at sea. We back the use of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles to detect troubled boats. Coordinates can accordingly be streamed back to base, allowing rescue boats to react faster. Built-in infrared cameras can also help spot tiny boats in the water, especially in ever-changing weather conditions.
When it comes to saving lives, every second counts.
4. Rescuing people from underneath rubble
As the bombs continue to fall, civilians remain trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings. February 2018 saw one of the bloodiest assaults in the Syrian war so far, with thousands in Eastern Ghouta unable to escape from the colossal impact of debris.
Lifting the rubble to locate those buried beneath it requires highly expensive specialist equipment, which is almost impossible to obtain. Instead, local rescue teams are forced to use basic tools to pick through the flattened buildings, meaning progress is cruelly slow. Such a delay results in far fewer people surviving, and it takes months for the dead to be raised.
One Family is supporting a frontline organisation which is engineering airbags to lift heavy debris off trapped people. Local implementation means a 90% reduction in cost, while the firm meets international standards.
By reaching populations in such dire need, they can begin to take control of their own recovery.
Although the long-term solution to the struggles of the Syrian people can only be achieved by lasting peace, we believe that together, we can alleviate the terrible human suffering seen over the past seven years.