This week our hearts have been wrenched again by the crisis in Syria, especially in Aleppo, as conflict intensified. The media continues to remind us that this is one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world today. Over 12 million people have been displaced since the war began in 2011.
In the last several weeks, Week of Compassion has provided emergency grants to our partners through Global Ministries to support Syrian refugees through the winter months. Just this week, the Week of Compassion Committee approved an emergency grant to provide nearly $250,000 from our unrestricted Compassion In Action Fund for the global refugee crises surrounding the Middle East.
The need is vast and varied: From those still in war-torn areas inside Syria, to those who have fled and are staying in refugee camps throughout the Middle East, to those who have sought asylum throughout Eastern Europe. The grants approved by the Week of Compassion Committee provide support to refugees and migrants in each of these areas, and respond to the unique needs identified by partners on the ground.
Within Syria, especially in Aleppo, funds provide immediate food and water relief, delivered through our network of church partners who create a collaborative network of compassion in dire circumstances. Although there has been a ceasefire in Aleppo, violence has not ceased. As of Thursday morning, our partners remain in Aleppo providing food and water even as the situation develops.
As families flee Syria, they go to refugee camps throughout the Middle East. Daily challenges in these camps include personal sanitation and hygiene. Partners are providing hygiene kits to respond to this need.
Some have migrated through to Greece, Serbia, and Hungary. Refugees there face several challenges from food insecurity to cold winter in temporary shelters. Thousands of children have missed months, or even years, of school. Through our partners, we are providing hot meals and food parcels, weather appropriate clothing, and remedial classes and school supplies. After fleeing violent conditions and entering a foreign country, many refugees face ongoing challenges from post-traumatic stress. This grant provides crucial counseling and psychosocial services, especially for children, during this vulnerable moment.
As the situation in Syria and the surrounding Middle East is expected to worsen in the near future, Week of Compassion is committed to continuing to provide emergency support. We will continue to be in communication with those on the ground. We will continue to listen to the voices of those who implore the world to hear their cry. We will continue to work with our global church partners to end this conflict. We will increase our efforts to advocate for peace for all people.
During this time we are called as church to respond to our sisters and brothers in need. We hold the suffering of the Syrian people in prayer and we continue to pray that all people come to live in peace.
Your generosity and support allows our church to be present with the suffering and in solidarity with the vulnerable. In this season of Advent, we await Christ's coming into the world. As we wait, we prepare Christ's way through our actions: comforting the weeping, healing the wounded, feeding the hungry, and protecting the vulnerable.
To view the Global Ministries statement on Aleppo (Dec. 15, 2016), click here.
For Syria Crisis and Our Churches' Response resources, click here.