Diana Shaw

Diana writes on Asia, the Middle East and all things Red Cross.

Posts by Diana Shaw:

A dream, a memory and a cash grant: how Syrian refugees keep going in Jordan

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A young Syrian boy stands near clothes drying on a line outside a house in Jordan

In Britain, feelings about refugees are running high. But most refugees never even try to come to Europe.

The vast majority of Syrian refugees have fled to neighbouring countries, including Jordan.

According to the UN, there are more than 657,200 Syrian refugees in Jordan. But the Jordanian government says there are nearly twice as many – around 1.3 million.

This means that approximately one in ten or one in six people in Jordan is a Syrian refugee – a huge percentage either way.

And, like in the UK, unemployment and increasing competition for jobs are issues in Jordan. Most refugees can’t work there legally and have to rely on humanitarian aid.

So, while life in Jordan is better than being bombed or hungry in Syria, it is often still hard.

The British Red Cross, with our partners the Jordan Red Crescent, has supported Syrian refugee families in Jordan since 2012.

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Speaking for those who cannot: supporting survivors of sexual violence

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Three women stand with their backs to the viewer on dusty ground in Africa with only their long skirts and feet showing

“When I went to Pascaline’s parents to ask for her hand, they agreed even though I only had half the dowry. When we got married, we were in love.”

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jacques still speaks about his wife Pascaline with love.

“Years went by, we had children, and we were still happy together,” he continues.

Then Pascaline was raped by armed men at the side of the road. They stole everything she had.

“I felt like dying. I never imagined this would happen,” she said

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A hug, a smile and Elmo: helping children in Fiji

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A girl in Fiji smiles as she gets a hug from an Elmo puppet almost as big as she is

What does Elmo have to do with cyclones in Fiji?

More than you might guess.

On 20 and 21 February, Tropical Cyclone Winston smashed into Fiji with winds of up to 325 kilometres an hour.

Approximately 350,000 people were affected. Around 120,000 of them were children.

When it was over, 28,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. Some families lost everything.

Thousands of children now go to school in tents because their school buildings are no longer standing.

Some children were so terrified by the cyclone that they are still scared of any rain.

They may even start to run in panic – across roads, into rivers – to escape.

This is where Elmo and his friends can help.

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A holiday far from home: Eid al-Fitr on Iraq’s front lines

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A mother holds a young child while people walk behind them in a desert landscape

On 6 and 7 July, around a billion people – approximately a seventh of the world’s population – are celebrating Eid al-Fitr.

Celebrations will take place across the world – from the UK to Russia, India and beyond. Marking the end of Ramadan, the holiday celebrates the power of family and community.

People may also give thanks for having the strength to endure difficulties in their lives.

But this year, unprecedented numbers of families are far from home on Eid al-Fitr.

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In pictures: hot meals for the hungry in Iraq

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Red Crescent volunteers distribute bread to woman and girl in Iraq

Trapped between warring armies and forced to flee their homes – this is reality for millions of people in Iraq.

More than three million Iraqis are already in this situation and fighting causes thousands more to leave their homes every week.

In the past few days, over 12,000 families had to leave the besieged city of Fallujah and the number is expected to increase.

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Child safety, Afghan style

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Three girls play as they pump water from a well

In the UK, keeping children safe means babyproofing your home or teaching youngsters to look both ways before crossing the road.

In Afghanistan, it could mean stopping children dying from diseases picked up from human waste.

More than just a nuisance

For most people in Britain, diarrhoea is a nuisance that can be easily treated. If a child is very badly affected, care is always available.

But in some countries, diarrhoea is life threatening.

Nearly 1.3 million children under five die from diarrhoea worldwide, making it the second most common cause of child deaths.

In fact, over half of these deaths occur in just five countries. Afghanistan is one of them.

What makes this even sadder is that children’s lives could be saved if communities had clean water, toilets and hand-washing facilities.

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Volunteers on the front lines

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Two Red Cross volunteers hold and comfort an injured child

What happens when the day you have spent years preparing for suddenly comes without warning?

In April, Red Cross volunteer Jorge Chele Santana was spending a peaceful afternoon with his father, wife and son.

Suddenly the ground shook violently and the family rushed outside. They didn’t realise at first that their home town of Manta, Ecuador, was near the epicentre of a major earthquake.

The city was hit hard and help was needed immediately.

“I remember calming down my 17-year-old son, who also happens to be a Red Cross volunteer,” Jorge said.

“I looked him in the eye and said ‘son, it’s time to show what we’ve prepared for, what we’ve been trained to do and remember why we are part of the Red Cross.’

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