Downton’s Lady Mary, Michelle Dockery, has visited a Jordanian refugee camp to launch Oxfam’s appeal to raise funds to help Syrian refugee families survive the coming winter.
Oxfam’s 12 Days of Giving appeal is asking the public to dig deep to make sure these refugees have the support they desperately need over the coming months, and Michelle is here to tell us more.
DOWNTON ABBEY star Michelle Dockery travelled to Syria with Oxfam last month to meet refugees living in Jordan. As the charity launches its Syrian Winter Appeal today, the actress shares her experiences and personal photo album from what was a truly moving trip.
“Every day there is another story about the Syrian conflict. However, little is known of the millions of refugees who have had to quite literally run from their homes as bombs bear down on them. I wanted to meet these people, hear their stories and understand the life they came from and the life they now live in.
On my first day, I visited Zaatari camp on the outskirts of Amman near the Syrian border. Zaatari is one of the biggest formal camps, this time last year a sprinkling of tents, now the fourth largest city in Jordan. This is a bleak place bang in the middle of the desert, boiling in the summer and below freezing in the winter. I met three families on the camp, mainly women who willingly told me their stories, a relief to share the terrible burdens and trauma they carry so closely. Many of these women came from wonderful and full lives back in Syria, with beautiful homes, wonderful neighbours and family all around them. Their children in education with bright futures ahead, the same children who now run around with the clothes they fled in. Life on camp is hard, there is little to do each day, nothing changes and there is no end in sight.
The second day we visited a family in the host communities. These are refugees living in rented accommodation outside the formal camps. Many people have fled literally with nothing; they have no money and are unable to work. The family I met had ten people living in a flat suited for three. The conditions were shocking. I met small boy, who had been severely unwell due to the damp on the walls. As I heard the heart-breaking stories from his mother, he coughed, clinging onto her.
Our lives go on but the people I met remain, stuck in a no man’s land, unsure of when they will be able to reunite with their family, or go back to their beloved homeland. None of the people I met would have ever thought they would need to ask for help but now they have no choice. They have nothing and they need help to be able to survive day by day. Its winter now and it will be freezing. I think of the cold concrete flats, the make shift tents and how cold it must be at night. They need blankets, they need stoves, they need clothes and we can help Oxfam supply this.”
To make a donation to Oxfam’s appeal visit Oxfam.org.uk/syria.
The Downton Abbey actress visited Syrian refugees living in Jordan to launch Oxfam’s 12 Days of Giving appeal, which aims to raise £1 million for the emergency response to the Syria Crisis.
The Government has agreed to match pound-for-pound all public donations as part of the Aid Match scheme.
In the video made during Michelle Dockery‘s visit last month, she highlights the needs of the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees as they head into the worst of the winter.
Many people are only wearing the thin summer clothes they fled from Syria in and those living in tents are sleeping on just a bare mat or thin mattress above the cold winter ground.
“What I have seen and heard on my trip is hard to put into words. I met families who have had to leave the homes they have been building for years, mothers who have fled with their children leaving husbands and loved ones behind, unsure when they will be reunited. All of the refugees I met were experiencing a terrible suffering which is hard to comprehend,” Michelle Dockery says.
“I met families living in sprawling camps, tents on the side of the road and rented accommodation in horrific conditions with the damp so extreme it is making children and the elderly sick. Mothers told me their children are already unable to sleep because of the cold and it is only going to get worse. I met just a few of the millions of refugees from Syria who are going to need the very basics to keep them warm and survive the coming months. Oxfam will be doing the best they can by delivering winter kits to help many of the poorest families, but they want to be able to do much more and so we really need the public’s help.”
Money raised through the appeal will help support the further distribution of these winter kits, which for refugees living in flats will include blankets, gas heaters and refill for four months; and those living in tents will receive blankets and plastic sheeting to help protect the tents better from the rain and snow.
To donate go to www.oxfam.org.uk/syria
Michelle is using her fame to do valuable work, she hopes her efforts will ensure many Syrian families can survive the forthcoming cold weather. Since last winter the number of refugees fleeing into neighbouring countries has soared to at least four times the size it was a year ago.
This time last year, the refugee population in Lebanon was 100,000, now it is around 1million. During her trip with global charity Oxfam Ms Dockery visited refugees from Syria living in Jordan, she has been deeply affected by what the things she has seen.
The actress said: “What I have seen and heard on my trip is hard to put into words. I met families who have had to leave the homes they have been building for years, mothers who have fled with their children leaving husbands and loved ones behind, unsure when they will be reunited.”
Speaking passionately she added: “All of the refugees I met were experiencing a terrible suffering which is hard to comprehend.”
The stunning Downton star is campaigning for public donations after visiting vulnerable refugees in Syria.
Michelle said: “I met families living in sprawling camps, tents on the side of the road and rented accommodation in horrific conditions with the damp so extreme it is making children and the elderly sick. Mothers told me their children are already unable to sleep because of the cold and it is only going to get worse.”“I met just a few of the millions of refugees from Syria who are going to need the very basics to keep them warm and survive the coming months. Oxfam will be doing the best they can by delivering winter kits to help many of the poorest families, but they want to be able to do much more and so we really need the public’s help.”
If you would like any more information on the appeal, or you would like to donate to the Syria Crisis appeal please visit Oxfam.org/syria.
Downton Abbey star Michelle Dockery recently visited a Syrian refugee camp to witness the plight of the homeless – and to support a fundraising campaign to be launched this week by Oxfam.
The actress, who plays Lady Mary in the ITV period drama, travelled to the Zaatari refugee camp in neighbouring Jordan. The vast tented city is home to more than 120,000 displaced Syrians, half of them under 18.
Aid workers at the camp, only eight miles from the Syrian border, struggle to provide decent conditions for the families who have flocked there to escape the fighting. The civil war in their home country, which began in 2011, has claimed more than 100,000 lives.
Here, in a moving personal account, Ms Dockery tells Mail on Sunday readers about her visit to the camp – and its effect upon her.
A good friend of mine works at Oxfam and has been closely involved in the charity’s aid efforts in Syria. After talking with her, I realised I had been unaware of the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis there.
It became clear to me that many of the refugees had come from a life not dissimilar to ours – with jobs, homes and families – but the war had robbed them of the life they knew and loved. I wanted to learn more and help, which is why I was very keen to visit.
But what I saw and heard during my brief time at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan is hard to put into words. The camp is home to more than 120,000 Syrian people – people whose lives have been torn apart by the ongoing conflict in their native land.
The Syrian families I met had fled their towns, their cities, their homes, seeking haven in this remote patch of Jordanian desert until the civil war ends. But they do not know when that might be.
They live in a sparse, makeshift city, most of them in rudimentary tents or caravans that offer little shelter from the harsh elements. They have been forced to live in a present not of their making – and do not know what their future will hold.