Updated: Wednesday, 11th December 2019 @ 10:06pm

No place for complacency in tackling Syrian crisis, claims Manchester charity aiming for £1million with concert tour

No place for complacency in tackling Syrian crisis, claims Manchester charity aiming for £1million with concert tour

By David Aspinall

A nationwide concert tour that will attempt to raise more than £1million for Syrian refugees has been organized by a Manchester charity that was originally run from a one-bedroom flat.

Human Appeal will visit 12 cities across the United Kingdom as part of their Sounds of Light 2013 tour, which includes international musical and comedic acts.

The tour visits Manchester's O2 Apollo on October 27 and the concerts will attempt to attract family audiences but will be punctuated with harrowing footage from Syria in an attempt to drive home the harsh reality that refugees face.

Co-presenter and Head of Fundraising for the charity, Na'eem Raza said: "Human Appeal has been doing some vital work in Syria.

“But we believe there is no place for complacency.

“Constant media coverage can sometimes numb people’s response to the disaster.”

The 49-year-old has just returned from the country – his fourth visit since February – during which he visited four towns over eight days, some of which had been levelled by bombing.

Syria may have recently agreed to destroy it's chemical weapons, but the humanitarian crisis continues to deepen.

The charity will use some of the funds raised to build ‘safe villages’ in an attempt to ease the hardship for the 4.5million Syrians displaced by their country's two-year long civil war.

These villages cost between £400,000 and £500,00 each, and contain 100 permanent houses – as opposed to the tents which refugees currently live in – a school, water and sanitation.

Mr Raza believes these villages are vital because once the conflict finishes he estimates it will be another decade until it is safe for Syrians to return to their villages.

On top of this the tents in which they currently reside are not suitable for all weather conditions, something he has experienced on his four previous visits.

“I’ve seen all four seasons, and all four seasons are difficult for them because the tents they have been given are not weather specific,” he said.

“So in the summer it is very, very hot and in the winter it is very cold.”

Funds raised from last year’s tour helped purchase the only CT scanner for 100km for the region, which means people concussed in bombings no longer have to travel up to six hours to be medically reviewed, a journey which many died making.

Furthermore, they helped to reopen and support schools that are offering education and psychological support for orphans of the conflict.

Mr Raza has worked for the charity for nearly two and half years and has seen first-hand the benefits of supporting these schools.

“The kids are smiling, even though they live in refugee camps behind the school, which shows there is great benefit there,” he said.

Mr Raza will co-present the concerts with the American actor Omar Regan.

The musical offerings are provided by American artist Raef, Swedish singer-songwriter Maher Zain and 16-year-old Harris J, who was born in London.

Despite his love for working with artists his role as fundraiser means that he will not be able to enjoy the concerts until the nightly target of £100,000 is made.

“I’m looking forward to raising the money and going to sleep at night knowing we have reached our target,” he said.

The charity was established in 1991 out of a one-bedroom flat in Manchester, but now covers 24 countries across three continents and has provided food and shelter to people in Pakistan and Sudan after natural disasters.

Tickets are still available for the concert and for more information, or to donate to the charity, please visit, http://www.soundsoflight.org/

Image courtesy of IHH Insani Yardim vaki, with thanks

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