Project Report:
Syrian Refugees Response Phase Two

Jul 2016 to Feb 2017

The project:
Syrian Refugees Response
Technologies used:
Kanya Menstrual Hygiene Kit
Local partner:
The problem: 

Women and girls displaced by the conflict are facing an issue they cannot avoid: monthly menstruation. Few of them remember to bring sanitary pads, but most (if not all) think the pads are irrelevant and prioritise other lifesaving items (food, water and medicine) during their escape.

It is very challenging to get clean menstrual hygiene products such as sanitary pads when fleeing conflict and women and girls are forced to use and reuse clothes or old rags. If they are lucky women will get the opportunity to secretly wash the rags, however many do not get that chance as menstruation is a taboo topic.

Women and girls are at risk of developing infections that can cause serious health complications if they do not have access to clean menstrual hygiene products.

How we helped: 

By connecting JANMA Clean Birth Kit with internally displaced mums-to-be in Syria will have access to sterile equipment needed for a safe birth. JANMA Clean Birth Kits contains six simple tools (recommended by the World Health Organization) that can prevent infections, mortality and morbidity at the time of childbirth.

It is with enormous regret that we must inform all of our donors to the Syrian Refugees Response (Phases 1 & 2) that the JANMA Clean Birth kits and KANYA Menstrual Hygiene kits have not reached the people they were intended for, but are instead being held by the Turkish customs service.

Reaching the last mile: 

In July 2016, our local partner, Circle of Health International (COHI) organized a three-day training session for a group of Syrian midwives held in Gazientep, Turkey. It was the ten midwives attending this training who were to receive 1,000 clean birth kits and 2,500 menstrual hygiene kits, funded by Kopernik donations and supplied by our technology partner, AYZH, to distribute to internally displaced refugees fleeing conflict.

At this time a military coup took place in Turkey and COHI’s team were forced to leave the country due to obvious safety concerns. When the kits arrived at the Turkish port COHI staff were not present to accept the items addressed to them and the goods were therefore detained.

The challenges: 

For the past six months, our partners, COHI and AYZH have worked tirelessly to secure the release of these supplies which were intended for internally-displaced Syrian refugee women. All of the required documentation has been submitted to the customs service, and numerous visits and negotiations have taken place at the customs office in Gazientep. Despite this, the Turkish customs service refuse to release the kits. AYZH has hired two import agents in Turkey to assist with the negotiations and have also visited the Turkish Embassy in New Delhi to seek their assistance, but with no success. Attempts have also been made with the original freight forwarder, FedEx, to try and have the shipment returned, but with no effect.

Kopernik has now exhausted all possible avenues and decided that we have no option but to relinquish the kits. This is a deeply frustrating situation as the kits are very much needed by women who have already gone through inconceivable suffering.

Kopernik will donate the administration fees raised through this project to another Kopernik project benefiting Syrian refugees - the Light Up Aqaba project which is distributing solar lights to refugees located in camps in Aqaba, Jordan. A small gesture to ensure that at least some assistance reaches the Syrian people. AYZH have also generously donated 500 Clean Birth kits to another Kopernik project in Laos.