Looking back at 2023
As 2023 draws to a close, we can look back on another extremely busy year for ShelterBox. It is thanks to our supporters that we have been able to bring aid to people without shelter around the world. Thank you!
2023 saw us responding to a number of disasters and conflicts.
In February 2023, Turkey and northern Syria were rocked by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. After the earthquake, over 5700 aftershocks were reported. This was followed by another earthquake on 20th February. The effect was devastating. Over 50,000 people were killed and 60,000 buildings destroyed. In Syria, the earthquake followed years of conflict that had already displaced millions of people.
In response to the earthquakes, we supplied shelter aid in both Turkey and Syria. This included tents, solar lights, blankets, mattresses and stoves. We also supplied warm winter clothing for those facing the cold winter nights. Nurgül was one of the people we supported in Turkey after her home was destroyed in the earthquake. She spoke of the importance of having shelter. “When I get in my tent and zip it up, I feel relieved. When there is no tent, the coffee I drink is not coffee. But here, in my tent, my coffee tastes like coffee.”
April 2023 saw violence breaking out in the Sudan. This has led to over 3 million people having to flee their homes to escape the conflict. While some are displaced within Sudan, others have fled to neighboring countries. One of these is Chad, where over 400,000 people have traveled from Sudan. The majority of these are women and children. The situation in Chad was already difficult. Violence and food shortages were already causing displacement.
We have been supporting people who have fled to Chad from Sudan with tents, tarpaulins, and rope to provide emergency shelter. Other items distributed include solar lights, mosquito nets, blankets, mattresses, and kitchen sets. These items are simple but effective. They help provide temporary homes, light in the darkness, and protection from disease. Asiza and her family were one of the many who fled to Chad from Sudan. We were able to support the family with a tent and household items. Asiza was very thankful for the good-quality tent. She has said she will stay on in the camp even if the violence stops in Sudan, despite the difficult conditions.
Another new response this year was Somalia. The country has been facing severe drought after several consecutive failed rainy seasons. This has caused people to leave their homes searching for water. There have also been outbreaks of violence and food shortages. Rain has arrived this year, but as it fell on drought-hardened earth, it caused flash floods. This has further driven displacement.
We are working with the Juba Foundation to help people find a location where they can stay for at least two years without fear of eviction. We have also assisted with the construction of locally appropriate shelters. People have also received household items. These include water filters and carriers, solar lights, kitchen sets, and mosquito nets. Muno is one of the people we have supported with a more durable shelter. She said, “I just took a quick look at the new houses being built for us, and I can’t wait to move in there. All of the kindness that has been shown to us has filled my heart. Now that I know the rain won’t be able to get into my house anymore, I can finally rest and feel relieved.”
September brought two major disasters. On 8th September, a powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Morocco, 70 km from Marrakesh. The earthquake happened at 11.11 pm, a time when most would have been asleep in their homes. Nearly 3000 people were killed. Some of the worst affected areas were villages in the Atlas Mountains. These are close to the epicenter of the earthquake. Entire villages were severely damaged, and roads were blocked by rubble.
We responded in Morocco to support people who had lost their homes in the earthquake. Aid distributed includes tents, thermal blankets, kitchen sets, and solar lights. We had to work quickly to distribute the aid before winter, as temperatures in the Atlas Mountains can fall to freezing, and snow is common. Bela was one of many people left homeless after the earthquake. He was very concerned about the approaching winter. We were able to help Bela and other families in his village with tents and other items. Bela said, “I feel very happy to see people like you from ShelterBox coming to help and help all the village. When we get the tents, we will all be happy.”
Just two days after the Morocco earthquake, devastating flooding affected Libya as a result of Storm Daniel. Many towns were impacted along the northeast coast of Libya. The worst hit was the city of Derna. Here, two dams burst, unleashing a torrent of water compared to a tsunami in its power and speed. People, vehicles, and buildings were all swept away in the flood. Whole neighborhoods were destroyed.
Due to the complicated political situation in Libya, we are responding in partnership with ACTED. They already had a presence in Derna before the floods. Aid items distributed will include hygiene kits and household items that will help protect people from the cold.
We will also be responding in Gaza. Click here for more information.
As well as our new responses above, we have continued a number of other responses.
As the conflict in Ukraine approaches its third year, we are delivering our sixth project in the country. This will support thousands more people with winter clothing, blankets, and stoves. It follows on from previous projects also providing winter aid. One of those helped was Kateryna, who had lost both her husband and her son during the war. We were able to support her with a stove to keep her warm. She said, “You didn’t leave us to our fate, like we were beaten by the war, but instead helped us a lot. I could have frozen in the house, but I came and heated it, and I know that I will not go to bed in a cold house.”
We have also been building on our work in Pakistan following the devastating flooding there in 2022. Over 33 million people were impacted by the flooding. This year we have been supporting people with shelter aid and cash assistance. We are now supporting the construction of more durable shelters and latrines. Ghulam was one of the people who received cash assistance. She shared how she had used the funds to support her family, “We needed food to eat for our family, along with clothes to wear in the extreme winters. We took a loan from someone and repaid it with a cash grant. I got a hand pump installed in my home for my daughters as they had to walk miles alone to drink water which was unsafe. We also bought goats, as we lost all of them in the floods. We will use the goats we have now to start a business and meet our needs.”
In Syria, we continued to help people displaced by the conflict there. This has included supplying items that help people stay warm in the winter and concrete tent bases to protect against flooding. In Yemen, a bitter civil war has resulted in millions being displaced. We have continued our support here, working with BCHR on the construction of iron net shelters. These more durable shelters are better suited to Yemen’s harsh climate. Local people are also more used to them. Ebrahim was one of those who helped with an iron net shelter. He said, “Everything is beautiful in it. In the previous shelter, if the rain came, we would feel anxious and uncomfortable because the rainwater would enter the shelter. Now, we enjoy the sound of rain as it hits the iron net without worrying about water entering.”
One of Africa’s fastest-growing displacement crises is taking place in Burkina Faso. Over 1.7 million have been forced to flee their homes due to extremist violence. Many people in Burkina Faso are being displaced for extended periods of time. To help with this, we have been working with HELP to construct Sahelian tents with a concrete base. This helps protect the shelters from flooding and improves hygiene and dignity. In Ethiopia, violence has also forced millions of people to flee their homes. The drought in the Horn of Africa is also forcing people to move. This year our projects in Ethiopia have supplied tarpaulins, rope, and household items. One of the people we supported is Mulu, a mother of three who was forced from her home due to the Tigray conflict. Mulu faced a difficult journey with her children to a displacement camp. She still fears further violent attacks may take place at the camp. We were able to support Mulu with shelter materials and household items. She said of these, “I am very happy with the support, and the materials are very nice. It is definitely going to be used in our daily lives. All the materials are very useable and important, especially plastic sheets, blankets and sleeping mats. I will renovate my house using the shelter materials to protect from harsh sun and wind.”
Another country where people are displaced due to conflict is Mozambique. The devastating impacts of climate change are also forcing people from their homes. This year we have been helping people in Mozambique with shelter kits and family kits. These were distributed at resettlement sites and in hard-to-reach areas. And in Cameroon, there are thousands of people who have been displaced by violence. We have been continuing our work supporting families who have had to flee their homes. Aid has included emergency, transitional, and durable shelters. This recognizes that many of the people displaced have been forced from their homes for some years. Household items have also been distributed. Saleh received shelter and household items after he and his family were forced from their home. He was particularly grateful for the durable shelter. He said, “… when I received this shelter, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I never imagined that it would be completely built and that I’d just have to move into my new home. It’s a priceless gift to give a roof over a homeless person’s head, and for that, I thank the heavens!”
This year in Cameroon, we also had an ethical storytelling project. This shared the experiences of three women who had received ShelterBox support. Through this, we learned a great deal about them and could share their stories as part of a fundraising campaign. This was after we had shared the publicity materials we created back to the women themselves! We wanted to ensure that what we had created accurately represented them and their stories.
As the climate crisis worsens and countries continue to be impacted by conflict and seismic events, 2024 is likely going to be another busy year!
As such, any support you can offer us is key. It could be that you could spare some time as a volunteer. Or perhaps you’d like to ring in the new year with a fundraising challenge? You can also support our work by buying virtual gifts and joining our book club. And, of course, all donations, big or small, make a massive difference.
We also love it if people follow us on social media and share our posts and web content. It helps more people know the needs of those around the world without shelter and the work we do.
And again, a massive thank you to everyone who has supported us in 2023. You have made a real difference to those without shelter.