Ellie Matthews

Ellie brings you the latest stories, interviews and analysis about British Red Cross work in the Middle East and Asia.

Posts by Ellie Matthews:

Young Syrian refugees feel guilty for leaving

Red Cross worker speaks to teenagers in Jordan

Malla, Ibrahim (BRC)

Ea Suzanne Akasha is based in Lebanon. Here she describes her work with young refugees as a Red Cross psychosocial delegate. 

“I got out of the car and stood for some moments, to look back at my once beautiful and now destroyed city,” says Tamara, a 21-year-old Syrian refugee, describing the moment when she had to flee her home town.  More

Photos: Red Crescent vaccinates children against polio


As part of a national campaign, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent is vaccinating children in areas of Syria that the government cannot access. Red Crescent volunteers have been immunising children up to five years old against polio, mumps, measles and rubella.



Photos: Red Cross gets aid to people after Typhoon Haiyan



Here, volunteers and staff at the Philippine Red Cross headquarters prepare emergency kits – including both food and non-food items – to be transported to areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan, including the eastern island of Leyte and the coastal city of Tacloban.

The Philippine Red Cross has been working non-stop to support people whose lives have been ripped apart by Typhoon Haiyan, know locally as Typhoon Yolanda. As well as supplying aid to communities that have lost everything, it is providing search and rescue teams to reach people in the most remote areas.

Donate to the Typhoon Haiyan Appeal More

Syria: vital medicines help hard-to-reach families

Jawaher waiting with her youngest daughter Shahd at the Mobile Health Unit.

© Ibrahim Malla/IFRC

Al-Adliah collective school provides shelter for 30 families and 136 people in rural Damascus, Syria. Each classroom houses at least one family, and there is no furniture apart from old carpets on the floor and mattresses piled by the walls. Some rooms are turned into kitchens, with simple cookers on the floor. As a result of the poor conditions, many people face health problems.

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent has a mobile health unit that visits the school. Dr. Tarek Tanirah, from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, explains: “Mobile health units cover the areas where health services do not exist at all. We provide a wide range of health care, but also medication for chronic illnesses.

“Seventy per cent of the patients are children, most of them with respiratory illnesses. Many of the adult patients suffer from orthopaedic and neurological diseases and arthritis. Many of the female patients have gynaecological problems. Also, lice and scabies are often a problem in the crowded shelter.”

Donate to the Syria Crisis Appeal More

India cyclone: lives saved, but livelihoods ruined

Kamala is 25 years old and is expecting her second child.

© IFRC/ Maude Froberg

Kamla is eight-months pregnant with her second child. When she heard Cyclone Phailin was approaching, she rushed to the nearby cyclone shelter. She says: “I acted as soon as I heard the early warnings from the Red Cross volunteers.

“That was the day before the cyclone was supposed to make landfall, but I went anyway – I didn’t want to risk anything. Then the cyclone and heavy rain hit the following night. I was scared, knowing I couldn’t move very fast.”

Donate to the India Cyclone Appeal


Syria crisis: from Damascene lawyer to refugee

Jordanian Red Crescent volunteer talks to Syrian woman

©IFRC/Raefah Makki

This is a guest blog from Kenny Hamilton, a British Red Cross delegate in Jordan.

Not long after the sun has risen, I join volunteers and staff from the Jordanian Red Crescent on their way to the small office where they will distribute cash grants to Syrian refugees. There is already a throng of people waiting, and the crowd parts – unasked – to allow us into the building.

Outside, Syria is the only topic of conversation. Fragments of information from home are exchanged by people who have recently arrived. These are met with cautious requests for news from people who have left the country over the last few months.

Names are called by the volunteer at the door. Again the crowd parts to let people through – no scrum, no anxiety and no hostility. These are people who have learned to wait. People who know that – for them – change isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

Donate to the Syria Crisis Appeal


Photos: Red Crescent helps Syrians from besieged town

Two volunteers help move an elderly woman

©Ibrahim Malla/IFRC

Earlier this week, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent helped more than 2,000 people – mostly women, children and elderly men – as they left the town of Moaddamiyah in rural Damascus.

The civilians, who were given safe passage out of the besieged area by authorities, were met by Red Crescent volunteers. The volunteers took people to shelters in the nearby town of Qudsaya and provided them with first aid, food, water and other emergency supplies. More

Syria: three generations of refugees

Young Syrian refugees are taught breathing exercises.

©Ea Suzanne Akasha

This is a guest blog by Ea Suzanne Akasha, a Red Cross psychosocial delegate based in Lebanon.

“Let’s bring smiles back onto the faces of refugee children,” say Sami and Ghufran, two Lebanese Red Cross volunteers. Both volunteers have themselves fled Syria and are now refugees in Lebanon. When I meet them, they are being trained to deliver practical and emotional support to children. More