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Comment | Engineers and aid: help others help themselves

Syrian refugees having rest at the floor of Keleti railway station. Refugee crisis. Budapest  Hungary  Central Europe  5 September 2015

Next month the Syrian conflict will enter its sixth year – and with it, so will the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis.

The extent of the crisis is such that no-one even has a full grasp on the numbers; the United Nations  puts the number of Syrian refugees at 4.7M, but the real number of people forced to flee their homes and in urgent need of aid is nearer 12M.

These people have fled to neighbouring countries that they do not necessarily want to be in, and, of course, are not necessarily welcome in.

Governments around the world are being called on to invest in a long-term response that includes access to education, livelihoods, and opportunities for legal employment. In short, they are advocating a response that will enable the millions of Syrian refugees in the region to rebuild their lives with dignity.

Investing in humanitarian capacity goes hand-in-hand with this approach. Engineering disaster relief charity RedR believes that building skills and developing local capacity across the Middle East is the only way to provide a response that not only addresses basic needs, but strengthens resilience – and restores some hope for the future.

As RedR President Princess Anne told patrons at its annual reception this week, the numbers are extraordinary. The only conceivable way to begin to tackle the problem is to train people locally to help themselves.

To date, RedR has run training courses in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel, Gaza, Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey, providing essential skills to 800 aid workers, the majority of whom are from the region. Training is delivered in Arabic and English, and courses cover everything from safety and security to humanitarian leadership.

It’s a service that is hugely valued by other aid agencies and is a genuinely fantastic and inspirational demonstration of what engineers can – and do – achieve.

Every day, across the world, RedR is making a difference. In 2015 it trained 5,224 humanitarians in 32 countries.

But that’s not enough; in today’s times, there are far more people in urgent need of help than can be helped.

So help them – get involved and donate; donate corporately; run events; do whatever you can.

All credit to Tony Gee and Partners who received a Special Engagement Award from Princess Anne at the reception for their outstanding staff fundraising over the past year; raising over £13,000.

And huge respect too to Arup, crowned Wear Red Champions once again, having raised over £12,000 (and counting) in support of RedR’s work.

More like you please!

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