Ahmad and Mohamed are brothers who were orphaned in the violence of their home town, Homs in Syria, and fled with elderly relatives to find refuge in the capital, Damascus.
Muzaffer Baca / IBC
Seeing Syria Through
By David Tereshchuk*
May 21, 2012—For more than a year now, Syria has been roiled with violence and upheaval, forcing hundreds of thousands of workers to flee their homes.
UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, is committed to helping the displaced, agreeing recently to extend its support through long-experienced partner organizations. Its assistance is chanelled partly through ACT Alliance, an ecumenical aid consortium working on the ground in Syria through International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), and also via partnership with the International Blue Crescent (IBC), a Turkey-based Muslim aid group.
The capital, Damascus, had already been coping with a huge influx of refugees from neighboring Iraq over the past decade, and the domestic turmoil has brought in as many as 600,000 additional Syrians uprooted from cities like Hama, Homs, and Idlib. As a result, Damascus’ poorer districts like Jaramanah or Dar-el Zeinab have become especially hard pressed.
The country’s economy overall is in a ruinous state, and the displaced seeking refuge in these neigborhoods have found food prices skyrocketing, sometimes more than doubling over the last 12 months.
As efforts to establish “humanitarian corridors” to bring international aid have been obstructed, UMCOR has used its well-established, local partners to distribute aid. IBC, for instance, has been allowed by the Syrian authorities to work with IDPs (internally displaced persons) because of their collaborative efforts with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
IBC has been able to get supplies of baby food, materials for hygiene and sanitation, and food parcels to families in need on a monthly basis since March.
One special priority among the displaced population of Dasmascus is the uncounted number of children who have been orphaned in the violence or are in the care of elderly relatives. “Some of them are in a desperate psychological state, living in fear caused by the atrocities they witnessed—and they need treatment,”according to Muzaffer Baca, vice president of IBC.
The agency has also been able, with funding from UMCOR, to direct help back to its home-base of Turkey—especially the southern Turkish province of Hatay—where many Syrians have found safety fleeing across the border.
With the prospects of establishing peace again in this troubled nation looking dim, despite all the efforts made by the United Nations, the need for humanitarian support in Syria shows no sign of diminishing.
A gift to International Disaster Response, UMCOR Advance #982450
, will support UMCOR’s response to people in urgent need like the uprooted people of Syria.
* David Tereshchuk is a journalist and media analyst and a regular contributor to umcor.org.