Donation boxes will act as furniture for refugees

Syria aid web main

Edinburgh Direct Aid is sending donations to the Middle East in specially designed packaging which can be transformed

19th December 2017 by Gareth Jones 1 Comment

Syrian refugees who face another extreme winter living in tents are set to benefit from a creative idea.

Edinburgh Direct Aid (EDA) sends donations of clothing and other items to refugee camps in the mountains above the Syrian-Lebanese border every month.

The charity packs boxes of donations which are sent off to the tens of thousands of people in the area who have been displaced from their homes.

However the boxes will now be put to good use alongside the items they carry, as the new packaging can be converted into furniture.

The boxes - which have been donated by packaging firm Smurfit Kappa - can be cut, folded and transformed into stools, desks or drawers.

“We always received standard boxes, packed them with donations and assumed that they were binned after they arrived at the camps,” said EDA’s Ian McHaffie.

“But Smurfit Kappa contacted us as they are interested in trying to recycle their packaging and find other uses for it.

“They came across this style of box, which was designed in Amsterdam, and manufactured them for us in Northampton.

“The boxes can now be used for putting all sorts of things in. They can be stacked as drawers or can be useful for sitting on, and are pretty sturdy when assembled.”

The charity has received a donation of 10,000 of the boxes – and the first shipment were sent off from the charity’s headquarters in Granton today (Tuesday).

They are filled with clothes, toys and other donations which are donated to the charity from individuals and organisations across Scotland.

EDA sends a shipment to Lebanon monthly, with the items heading to Beirut via Rosyth and Rotterdam.

Many of the refugees in Arsal have been living there since the start of the Syrian war in 2010 and have no prospect of returning home any time soon.

A recent Human Rights Watch visit to Arsal found widespread lack of legal residency, restrictions on freedom of movement, and fear of seemingly random arrests during army raids. Up to 60,000 Syrians are estimated to live in the area, which experiences temperatures of as low as minus 10 in winter but baking hot summers.

EDA was originally founded 25 years ago to provide aid to those struck by the Bosnian crisis, but has expanded its efforts to other parts of the globe to respond to humanitarian crises.

The charity now operates two schools for Syrian refugees and hopes that the boxes can be utilised by young people in the camps.

“We are involved in the running of two schools and want to do as much as we can to help young people,” McHaffie added.

“Hopefully they will be able to use the stools and desks for their lessons. If they can see that people are interested in them then hopefully that will give them some comfort and belief.”

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