UK charity Muslim Hands has launched its winter appeal, delivering over half a million pounds in aid to support some of the neediest people worldwide. Distributions will take place in nine locations, including Gaza, Yemen, Afghanistan, and the UK. Vital relief will be provided to communities affected by war, poverty, and natural disasters, with a particular focus on displaced people, widows, children, and the elderly.
Climate change has influenced extreme weather, and this year we saw countless emergencies from earthquakes to mass flooding, impacting millions in Türkiye and Syria as well as Afghanistan, Libya and Morocco, exacerbating existing poverty and food insecurity. In addition, the devastating effects of ongoing conflict and political instability has meant that nearly 1.9 million people are now displaced in Gaza with nowhere to go.
Two months after fighting escalated, Gaza is facing a humanitarian catastrophe. Millions have fled their homes in search for safety, with thousands now living with little to no shelter. As winter fast approaches, the harsh rainstorms and powerful winds is already another unbearable reality to contend with. “Everywhere you look, is congested with makeshift shelters. Everywhere you go, people are desperate, hungry and terrified.” Phillipe Lazzarini – UNRWA Commissioner General. He continued to say: “the lucky ones are those who have a place inside our UNRWA premises, especially now that winter has started. But the others have absolutely nowhere to go, they live in the open, they live in the cold, in the mud and under the rain.”
Samah, a mother of six sheltering at an UNRWA facility told our partners. “We left our home in a hurry. There was shelling everywhere. We couldn’t carry anything with us. We left home under fire. When food is available, I feed it to my children. They still wear the summer clothes we left with. I see them shivering from the cold at night, and I can't do anything for them except hold them as tightly as I can to give them a little warmth."
It is now a race against time for organisations such as Muslim Hands to ensure aid reaches those who are most vulnerable, including women and children, before the winter months make things harder and the spread of disease worsens. Muslim Hands is responding by providing food parcels, essential medicines, and clean drinking water. Winter essentials include blankets and warm clothing to support beneficiaries like Ayah who fled with just the clothes on their back.
Ayah said: “I came [to this UNRWA school] with my family after the building next to our house was hit in an airstrike. We left and took nothing with us. On the way to the south, I saw terrible scenes of dead bodies. My mum told me to close my eyes, but I couldn’t. The other night a building near the school was hit again. I hugged my mum so tight as I was terrified. Here in the school, we have nothing, not even a blanket. At night it is so cold, and I am shivering so much that my teeth are chattering."
Closer to home, UK food poverty rates continue to rise with food banks expecting their busiest and most difficult winter on record. The pandemic contributed towards high unemployment rates, and skyrocketing inflation prices on energy bills and food has had a serious impact on families across the country.
Muslim Hands has pledged to support local UK communities this winter through our Open Kitchens in London and Nottingham, with warm nutritious meals daily as well as winter essentials such as sleeping bags and warm clothing. The Open Kitchen opens its doors to everyone including those from low-income families, rough sleepers and refugees, Support also extends to housing, finding employment and mental health. Collectively, both Open Kitchens have provided over half a million meals since their opening.
Adam, his wife Kelly and their son are regular visitors to The Open Kitchen and for 3 months they have been living in hotels – a different one each week. Adam says “I’ve got a roof over my head and I’ve got a locked door between me and the outside world. There is a hell of a lot of people out there that haven’t even got that. They have to live day-to-day, they can’t store food for later on in the week, they have to eat day-to-day – and it just doesn’t work. The amount of homeless people around the city centre has got a lot, lot worse over the past few years. People are starving.”
Yasrab Shah, Muslim Hands Fundraising Director said: “To witness people in such desperation is truly heart-breaking. The scale of devastation we have witnessed this year is unimaginable, and it will take years for many of the countries we are working in to recover. Many of those impacted were already living in poverty and there is no doubt that the harsh winter months will present another difficult challenge. We continue to be humbled by the generosity of our donors, who give so that we can reach more people each year.
Muslim Hands’ winter appeal will provide essential items to some of the world’s poorest communities, for whom the cold season can mean the difference between life and death. Our support also extends to those living on our very own doorstep in the UK, suffering to make ends meet. We urgently need our donors to join us so that together we can keep our beneficiaries warm and safe."
Notes to editors
- Established in 1993, Muslim Hands is an international aid agency and NGO dedicated to providing emergency relief and tackling the root causes of poverty around the world.
- Muslim Hands works in over 30 countries worldwide.
- We rely on voluntary donations to continue our vital work. You can donate now by calling 0115 911 7222 or clicking here.
- Press enquiries contact Sahirah Javaid (Senior Press Officer) via email email@example.com or 07736344899