Our churches' response to the crisis in Syria
UPDATE (Jan. 10, 2013): Please click here for video testimonies on relief response, new articles on the situation for Syria refugees in neighboring countries, and to learn about ways to help.
More than 1.2 million Syrians have been displaced from their homes in Syria over the past 18 months. Many of them, especially the people who were also displaced from Damascus and Aleppo, have witnessed intensifying violence and endured the loss of jobs, homes and loved ones. Too often, they have also lost hope for the future.
The United Church of Christ is working with partner organizations in the region especially International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC).
More than 200,000 displaced people and those affected by the violence in Syria have been assisted with personal health kits and other aid.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees website and on ReliefWeb provide much useful information on the crisis' impact for refugee and displaced persons.
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Today [Oct. 23, 2012] the United Church of Christ issued a $100,000 emergency relief appeal for communities and individuals impacted by the escalating violence in Syria.
Since the onset of the conflict in March, 2011, the UCC has supported the efforts of our partners across the region to respond to the crisis and the growing number of displaced people. Emergency food packages, hygiene kits, bedding, and portable stoves have been distributed and psychosocial support and health care is being provided. Warm clothing and activities for children are now being organized in the Za’atri refugee camp in Jordan.
The situation in Syria worsens by the day as Syrian government and opposition forces attack one another.
Humanitarian needs continue to escalate as the violence spreads and deepens. Ordinary civilians – men, women and children – are the primary victims of the violence. An ever growing number of people are displaced, many for the second or third time. The United Nations estimates 1.2 million people are internally displaced within Syria, People also continue to flee across the border to neighboring countries. According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of Syrian refugees in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey could increase from the October 1 figure of more than 300,000 to a total of 710,000 people by the end of this year.
With the winter season approaching, the number of people in need of assistance is likely to rise. Already the night temperatures are starting to fall significantly. Tens of thousands of IDPs (internally displaced persons) are staying temporarily in buildings that are completely unsuitable for the cold of winter. Loss of livelihoods due to insecurity and market disruptions negatively impact purchasing power and leave more people without access to basic essentials, electricity, heating or fuel.
Children are experiencing and witnessing appalling violations. Boys and girls are routinely targeted, maimed and killed. Thousands of children have been injured or forced to leave their homes. In a report published in September, Save the Children shares the testimonies of children who survived detention, torture and the terror of indiscriminate violence. Equally disturbing narratives of the impact of violence on Syrian children have been presented in recent reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The use of heavy weaponry, including air strikes in densely populated areas creates fear and trauma, especially among young children.
UCC/Global Ministries responds
Food, shelter, warm clothing and trauma care are being provided through the following partners, in the countries and places noted:
- Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches; Syria
- Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue; Syria
- Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East; Syria
- International Orthodox Christian Charities; Syria, Lebanon, Jordan
- Middle East Council of Churches/Orthodox Churches of Jordan; Za’atri refugee camp, Jordan
- Syriac Orthodox Archbishopric of Mardin; Turkey
As the crisis unfolds new avenues of response are likely to open, including assistance with livelihood restoration.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
- Pray for the people and communities across the Middle East region impacted by the violence in Syria.
- To assist people impacted by this disaster, please make a gift payable to your congregation marked for “Syria Humanitarian Relief” with the request they be sent through your Conference office on to Wider Church Ministries.
Send gifts, made out to United Church of Christ and marked in the memo portion “Syria Humanitarian Relief” to United Church of Christ; Financial Services; 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115.
Make a secure online donation to the International Disaster Relief fund. Please note “Syria Humanitarian Relief” in the Comments Box.
Contributions may also be made to the Week of Compassion offering of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Thank you for your compassion and support.