Monday, 22 April 2013


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:

Mohammed Elhadad, left, Leicester project leader for the UK Arabic Society, with other ambulance convoy volunteers
Pleas as more ambulances head for strife-torn Syria
by Tom Mack
Charities providing ambulances and medical equipment to war-torn Syria are hoping to get more support from Leicestershire.
UK charities have been working with the Red Crescent to deliver supplies to Syria since the civil war started there two years ago.
Next month, volunteers from Leicester will be joining a convoy delivering 15 more ambulances, bought with money raised by the UK Arabic Society and the Al Fatiha charity.
On Saturday, the charities will also be holding a fund-raising fun day in Highfields, Leicester, followed by a bucket collection at Pak Foods, in Chesterfield Road, Evington, on the following weekend.
Mohamed Elhaddad, Leicester project leader for the UK Arabic Society, will be leading the convoy.
He said: "It's a long, 3,000-mile trip through France, Italy, Greece and Turkey and it takes about seven days to get there.
"We sleep and cook in our vehicles to save money and along the way people sometimes open up community centres and other places for us to stay.
"There is a growing need for ambulances in Syria. We know that two parties are killing each other and our duty is to help the innocent people caught up in the middle of it.
"A lot of children are being hurt."
The UK Arabic Society first got involved with the Red Crescent in August last year and the first convoy took two ambulances.
Each ambulance costs about £5,000 second-hand from NHS trusts, plus about £3,000 more for equipment and the journey itself.
About £10,000 has been raised in Leicestershire since then, but the charities are planning to make much more in the coming months.The fund-raising day will be held on Saturday, between 11am and 4pm, at Uplands Primary School, in Melbourne Road.
Abdul Majid, 24, of Highfields, a volunteer for the Al Fatiha charity, will be joining the convoy in May.
He said: "I've done convoys to Gaza in the past as well and experienced living in that war zone, but this will be my first trip to Syria.
"We need to do whatever we can because what's happening to ordinary people there is unimaginable.
"A lot of people want to help us and it's non-Muslims as well as Muslims who support us."
Leicester's Lord Mayor, Councillor Abdul Osman, will be attending Saturday's event.
He said: "I think it's a very worthy cause. They've done a lot of work nationally and sent a lot of ambulances over to Syria and I understand they want to raise more money in Leicester.
"I wish them well and I'm sure there will be a lot of support from the generous people in this city."
To make a donation to the UK Arabic Society transfer money to the "UK Arabic Society", sort code 30-92-13, account number 0355 3576.
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