ALMOST R13,9M RAISED BY #OPERATIONSA FOR #SAveSyria

MEDIA STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SUNDAY 19 FEBRUARY 2017

ALMOST R13,9M RAISED BY #OPERATIONSA FOR #SAveSyria

From left: #OperationSA activist Yaseen Theba, Yusuf Abramjee and Zaheerah Bham-Ismail. Almost R14-Million was raised in two months for #SAveSyria. Women’s groups raised R1,374 million through cake sales.

South Africans donated R13 898 714,89 in just under two months to assist with humanitarian efforts in Syria.

The #SAveSyria initiative was launched by #OperationSA in late December following scenes of devastation in Aleppo.

Over the past few weeks, South Africans have been rallying together and donating to assist Syrian refugees through radio, television an on-line pledge lines, auctions and cake sales.

#OperationSA donated R9 655 000 to seven charities shortly before New Year. Two weeks later, R100 000 was donated for an urgent eye operation for a refugee following a visit to the Turkish/Syrian border by a delegation from #OperationSA headed by Yusuf Abramjee and the Al-Imdaad Foundation.

The beneficiaries are the Jamiatul Ulama SA, Africa Muslims Agency, Jamiatul Ulama KZN, Darul lslam Relief Fund/Muslim Judicial Council (SA), Islamic Relief SA, Al Quds Foundation/ Madressah Ihys Uloom Ud Deen and the Al-Imdaad Foundation.

Today, the seven charities received a final payout totaling R 3 043714,89. They received R238 458,56 each.

The Al-Imdaad Foundation received an additional R1,374 505,00 after various women’s groups hosted cake sales in late January.

Another donor paid R100 000 to the Al-Imdaad Foundation.

Islamic Relief SA matched their initial donation of R1m with another R1m towards #SAveSyria.

Abramjee said: “It was heartening to see fellow South Africans from all sectors of society digging deep into their pockets and making a difference over the past few weeks.

“The response has been phenomenal. We thank all the donors, volunteers and sponsors. The Ubuntu we are seeing is touching,” Abramjee said.

#OperationSA said all charities were asked not to use “a single rand” for salaries, travel, accommodation, commission, etc. “We want all monies donated to go to the people in need.”

Abramjee said the charities have provided full reports of what they have done already and their plan of action over coming weeks.

“We are humbled by the work these charities are doing and we thank them sincerely for all their efforts.”

Auditing firm Nexia-SABT is in the process of a final audit and will submit a report soon.

#OperationSA activist Yaseen Theba said a total of R15 173 576,00 was pledged since the fund-raising drive started in December. Almost R14-Million was paid and this reflects a recall rate of over 90%.

“The recall rate is high and we appreciate it. The goodwill shown by South Africans has been phenomenal,” said Theba.

The cake sales saw 32 different areas around South Africa collaborating to raise funds under the banner of the South African National Muslim Womens Forum (SANMWF) towards #Operation #SAveSyria.

“All these organizations, among many other Muslim Womens groups, are instrumental in doing ground work in many areas across our country. Giving hope and assistance knows no barriers or borders. As South African women, we strongly felt the need of others and wanted to assist in any way we could,” said community activist Zaheerah Bham-Ismail.

“We felt more could be done. In addition to raising funds, we wanted to create an awareness of the genocide taking place in Syria. A plea was sent out to various areas and in a short space of time women’s groups clambered to join the initiative. The response far surpassed our expectations.

“Over R1,374-million was raised collectively. We decided to donate the money to the Al-Imdaad Foundation and it will go towards a Trauma Support Centre on the Turkish/Syrian border run by the IHH. This is where scores of women, many of whom were raped, are getting assistance.

” We are so grateful and appreciative of the giving SA spirit. Muslim Women in SA have paved the way to say no challenge is insurmountable and we can make a difference wherever we see a need,” added Bham-Ismail.

End:

ENQUIRIES:

Yusuf Abramjee
Cell 082 4414 203
Twitter: @abramjee

Yaseen Theba
Cell 064 4 000 000
Twitter: @yaseentheba

“Safety of journalists in Syria not guaranteed”

Thursday 19 January 2017 11:37

SABC

South African humanitarian foundation #OperationSA led by Yusuf Abramjee recently returned from war stricken Syria.(SABC)

South African journalist and humanitarian worker Yusuf Abramjee says no ones safety is guaranteed when travelling to Syria.

South African humanitarian foundation #OperationSA led by Abramjee recently returned from the war stricken country where they helped hundreds of suffering people.

He and #OperationSA distributed food, clothes, toys and stationary amongst other things to the young and old.

In light of what happened to Shiraaz Mohamed, who was kidnapped in Syria last week, Abramjee says if journalists requested that he accompany them to Syria under the guise of humanitarian work, he would refuse.

He says: “The situation on the ground is dangerous. The rebels stop you every few kilometers and question you. Its very unsafe.”

“Journalists shouldn’t risk their lives just to get the story. Safety is very important,” adds Abramjee.

Watch full interview below

Update from Islamic Relief SA

Islamic Relief South Africa* has added 1 million Rand to the #OperationSA donation, taking the total contribution from IRSA to the current Aleppo Emergency Relief effort to 2 million ZAR.

Being part of the global Islamic Relief network has enabled IRSA to have the R2 million emergency funding applied immediately to the relief efforts on the ground in Syria, which we did upon confirmation of the OperationSA allocation.
The documentation for transfer of the emergency funds were submitted to our bank forex department on the 09/01/2017 and should reflect in IR Syria account within the next few days.

Islamic Relief has been actively involved in the Syrian Relief effort since 2012, and many of our staff were among those recently evacuated from Aleppo. Alhamdulillah.

Insha’Allah, the South African contribution to the current emergency relief efforts is having a much greater impact due to it being a multi-donor intervention of Islamic Relief Global partner offices.

The total project funding from Islamic Relief is € 714,522 (approx. R 10,35 million)

IR SYRIA teams plan to provide more than 300 families (1500 individuals) with Shelter and household kits as well as 7700 families (38,500 individuals) who will benefit from the hygiene kits, water supplies and sanitation facilities over a period of 6 months.

Updates will be provided as received from the field with full report upon completion of project.

SOUTH AFRICAN TEAM RETURNS FROM TURKEY/SYRIAN BORDER: SUFFERING IS WIDESPREAD.

MEDIA STATEMENT

SOUTH AFRICAN TEAM RETURNS FROM TURKEY/SYRIAN BORDER: SUFFERING IS WIDESPREAD.

Photos (Click Here)

Sunday 7 January 2017

South African humanitarians say the situation in Syria is “dire”
and they have appealed to locals to continue donating. “Suffering is widespread and it’s a human disaster.”

Social activist and founder of #OperationSA Yusuf Abramjee and Al-Imdaad Foundation trustee Qari Ziyaad Patel returned from the Turkish/Syrian border at the weekend.

Speaking on their return, the two humanitarians said what they saw over five days “continues to haunt us…It’s painful. We are still on an emotional roller coaster.”

Abramjee and Patel were given official permission to enter Syria through a “safe humanitarian corridor.”

“It’s winter in the region. It’s bitterly cold and raining and snowing in some areas, Abramjee said.

Tens of thousands of Syrians were forced to leave their homes over recent months because of the war.

“When one comes face to face with the victims of the devastating war, the effects hit you right in the face. What we witnessed broke our hearts,” Abramjee said.

“We saw the Good, Bad and Ugly. It was good to see all the humanitarian efforts. But more needs to be done. We saw the bad in terms of orphans and widows suffering. And we saw the very ugly side to the war such as people paralyzed,” he said.

The IHH Turkish based Humanitarian Relief Foundation, hosted the South Africans which included three other volunteers from the Al-Imdaad Foundation.

Patel said: “On one day alone, we counted some 100 trucks loaded with food, blankets, mattresses and other essential ready to go to the various camps. Most left the following morning for Aleppo.

“Aid including food, blankets, clothing, mattresses and medicines continues to arrive and leave the warehouses,”‘said Abramjee.

Abramjee said there are some 3-million Syrian refugees on the border with Turkey. In Reyhanli alone, are 120 000 refugees.

“Children always face the worst nightmare when it comes to war. There are about 1-million young refugees and only 50% go to school.
There are 1500 orphans (ages 2
to 12) in Reyhanli alone,”
he added.

“We joined aid workers into Idlib Syria. Trucks line the border waiting to go in with aid. Along the way, life appears to continue as normal. Stores are open. But there is total destruction in other areas,”
he said.

Patel said: “Children in large numbers greeted us warmly when we arrived at the refugee camps. Others play in the mud and in between the rocks. Most women are in their tiny tents.”

The team also visited a refugee camp some 20km from the border which has about 150 000 Syrians. “It’s a sea of white and blue tents.”

Patel says in addition to food, clothing, mattresses and blankets, baby food and medicines are also urgently needed.

Abramjee said: “We visited a ‘Block Housing’ project launched by the IHH not far from the refugee camp.

“Each unit costs US$8000 (About R108 000) and once open will accommodate an entire family. They need sponsors. Widows and their families will receive priority,” he said.

The Tiny Hearts Village will be the biggest orphanage in the world when it is opened in Reyhanli in a few weeks.

Patel said: “We visited the construction site and the village will be completed in a few months. Some South African charities have donated to the homes.

Abramjee said: “Our heart broke when we visited an orphanage and women’s trauma centre in the area earlier.

“Children between 2 and 15 years of age have lost their fathers and mothers. Some kids draw sketches of their houses which were bombed. Others draw their dads and mums who were killed.

“Little Ahmed (2) posed with such a lovely smile as we took selfies. He clinched his tiny hand onto my fingers and refused to let go. He showed me his tiny ‘tent’ which he said in Arabic is his
home.”

Abramjee said: “Look in little Ahmed’s eyes. This baby wouldn’t let go of my hand. Ahmed is one of some 300 000 children who have been orphaned by the war in Syria. I met him when the IHH and Al-Imdaad Foundation took me to the Halima Al Saadia Orphanage in Reyhanli.

“I was not heroic, I was protected, and within days back to the comfort of my family. Ahmed wasn’t protected when shells fell, killing his parents, and he is not protected sufficiently now. There are 1-million kids in refugee camps around the Syrian/Turkish border.

“South Africans have been so supportive with #OperationSA. But my eyes have been opened by this visit, and I have to report to you that the need is even greater than I dreaded. I’m asking you to dig deeper…please help for Ahmed’s sake,” Abramjee added.

Patel said: “We also visited a centre which houses Syrian widows. Many were raped in front of their children. It is tragic. The counseling continues,” he said.

Abramjee said a stop at a hospital and rehabilitation centre brought home the real effects of the war.

“Severe burns. Missing legs. Hands blown off. Some paralyzed. These are but only a handful of thousands of Syrians injured. Their lives have been torn apart. Some have left their families in refugee camps, others in Syria. Many have lost their entire families.

“One man told us: ‘I’m angry. This is what war does…God must help us.’ His leg was blown off by a limpet mine,” Abramjee said.

“One elderly man at the rehabilitation centre says he arrived from Aleppo a few days ago. He was shot in the leg. It is covered in bandages and pins.”

The Al-Imdaad has already channeled funds raised by itself and #OperationSA to various IHH programmes.

“We will monitor the distribution over the next few weeks and also the work of other charities we donated millions of rands to,” Abramjee said.

The delegation also visited a Syrian widow in urgent need of an eye operation to avoid blindness.

“Medical reports said the 31-year-old mother of two only has 1% eyesight. If nothing is done, she stands the risk of going completely blind. US$ 8000 is needed for the operation. It took 10 minutes to raise the money back home,” the team said.

“Let’s continue to assist,” Abramjee appealed.

To pledge for the #SAveSyria #OperationSA initiative, SMS 072 3 99 99 99 or go to www.operationsa.org

#OperationSA has received R15,1-million in pledges over the past three weeks. Almost R11-million has been paid. This is a recall of 72%. R9,7-million has been distributed to seven charities.

“Every rand donated will make a difference. Now is the time to #SAveSyria.

“My heart is bleeding and will do so I suspect for a very long time. I feel the pain of the Syrian refugees. The world needs to feel their pain. We are one,” Abramjee said.

“With South Africans and the world helping, there is hope. But the harsh reality is that the suffering continues for now,” Patel added.

#OperationSA has received several requests from people back home who want to come and volunteer with humanitarian work. “We are exploring a few options and there is a need for professionals such as doctors, psychologists and teachers.”

“We have also received scores of enquiries about people who want to adopt orphans. Experts here say this is not an option for now because taking children out of this environment can be detrimental and there are a number of legal issues as well. But what we can do is sponsor an orphan. It costs about R650 per child per month,” Patel said.

End

Enquiries:
Yusuf Abramjee
Cell 082 4414 203
Twitter: @abramjee

Qari Ziyaad Patel
Cell (082) 7867755
Twitter: @qariziyaadpatel