Paris museum organizes toy collection for Syrian refugee children

News Stories, 25 April 2013

© UNHCR/A.Akad
Aid workers and Syrian children at the Nizip 1 camp try out some of the toys sent from Paris.

GAZIANTEP, Turkey, April 25 (UNHCR) Refugee children from Syria have few reasons to smile. The two-year-long conflict in their homeland has brought great suffering to them and their parents. But on Wednesday in Turkey, one group of Syrian refugee children received something to bring a small bit of sunshine into their lives a consignment of 60 boxes of toys sent to them by children in France.

The toys were collected by the Quai Branly Museum in Paris with the help of the UN refugee agency and the Fédération des Associations d'Anciens du Scoutisme (FAAS).

The charity group, Aviation Sans Frontières (Aviation without Borders), organized and bore the cost of flying the toys out to the southern Turkey city of Gaziantep, where they were collected and taken to the kindergarten and nursery schools of the Nizip 1 and Nizip 2 refugee camps. The schools provide an education to 736 Syrian children aged between three and five years old.

"The children were very excited and enjoyed playing with the toys," said UNHCR Public Information Associate Selin Unal, who was present at the distribution. "The Turkish authorities, which administer the camps, conveyed their thanks to UNHCR and the partners involved in the organization of this project."

Over the past year, French schoolchildren have been taking part in workshops at the Quai Branly Museum, which specializes in the indigenous art, culture and civilizations of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.

In what has become an annual campaign, the Parisian children were invited to bring one of their own toys in good condition and then make another toy from recyclable materials. At the same time, the children learn about the situation of refugee children of their own age, who have been forced out of their homes by war or persecution.

This year, thanks to a large mobilization by the FAAS, which is affiliated to the International Scout and Guide Fellowship, more than 2,000 toys were collected. Staff from Aviation Sans Frontières, UNHCR and the museum helped to pack the toys.

Turkey is host to an estimated 400,000 Syrian refugees, many of them children. These include some 192,000 refugees living in government-run camps in eight provinces and more than 200,000 refugees in urban areas. Between 300 and 400 new Syrian refugees arrive every day in Turkey.

The Syrian refugees are provided with shelter, food, health assistance, security and education, including vocational courses. The humanitarian response to the Syrian refugee influx is coordinated by the Prime Minister's Disaster Relief Agency, with operational support from the Turkish Red Crescent and other agencies. UNHCR provides technical advice, support and non-food relief items.

By Selin Unal in Gaziantep, Turkey and William Spindler in Paris, France

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Beyond the Border

In 2010, the Turkish border with Greece became the main entry point for people attempting by irregular methods to reach member states of the European Union, with over 132,000 arrivals. While some entered as migrants with the simple wish of finding a better life, a significant number fled violence or persecution in countries such as Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq and Somalia. The journey is perilous, with many reports of drowning when people board flimsy vessels and try to cross the Mediterranean Sea or the River Evros on the border between Greece and Turkey. The many deficiencies in the Greek asylum system are exacerbated by the pressure of tens of thousands of people awaiting asylum hearings. Reception facilities for new arrivals, including asylum-seekers, are woefully inadequate. Last year, UNHCR visited a number of overcrowded facilities where children, men and women were detained in cramped rooms with insufficient facilities. UNHCR is working with the Greek government to improve its asylum system and has called upon other European states to offer support.

Beyond the Border

Muazzez Ersoy

Muazzez Ersoy

Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

UNHCR aims to help 25,000 refugee children go to school in Syria by providing financial assistance to families and donating school uniforms and supplies.

There are some 1.4 million Iraqi refugees living in Syria, most having fled the extreme sectarian violence sparked by the bombing of the Golden Mosque of Samarra in 2006.

Many Iraqi refugee parents regard education as a top priority, equal in importance to security. While in Iraq, violence and displacement made it difficult for refugee children to attend school with any regularity and many fell behind. Although education is free in Syria, fees associated with uniforms, supplies and transportation make attending school impossible. And far too many refugee children have to work to support their families instead of attending school.

To encourage poor Iraqi families to register their children, UNHCR plans to provide financial assistance to at least 25,000 school-age children, and to provide uniforms, books and school supplies to Iraqi refugees registered with UNHCR. The agency will also advise refugees of their right to send their children to school, and will support NGO programmes for working children.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

Turkey: Faysal's Flight from Kobane , SyriaPlay video

Turkey: Faysal's Flight from Kobane , Syria

More than 170,000 people have fled from the town of Kobane in northern Syria to escape a fierce offensive by ISIL militants. Faysal managed to escape to Turkey before the fighting in the cauldron of conflict intensified, but he still has some family left in the besieged town on the border.
Refugees Continue Flowing into TurkeyPlay video

Refugees Continue Flowing into Turkey

Turkey has opened borders point for Syrian Kurdish civilians fleeing clashes between ISIS militants and Kurdish forces. More than 138,000 have crossed over since Friday and more are expected.
Turkey: Surge of Syrian RefugeesPlay video

Turkey: Surge of Syrian Refugees

More than 138,000 Syrian Kurd refugees have crossed into Turkey from the north of Syria in the last three days. This is one of the largest refugee influxes into Turkey since the start of the Syrian crisis in March 2011.