International Blue Crescent is helping Syrian children get the support they need, after being uprooted in the conflict, and after some lost their parents. Photo: IBC
As the conflict in Syria continues, UMCOR continues its aid for Syrians forced to flee their homes
By David Tereshchuk*
April 12, 2016—As the complex conflict in Syria surpasses its fifth full year, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is continuing its aid for Syrians forced to flee their strife-torn homes.
UMCOR, through its partners, is extending assistance to those displaced within Syria and those who have fled to neighboring countries and beyond.
In a district north of Damascus, the Syrian capital, UMCOR is working with a trusted regional partner, International Blue Crescent (IBC), to supply some 1,000 displaced families with urgently needed food packages.
“Many of these internally displaced persons [IDPs] have been made homeless multiple times, but due to repeated shifts in the fighting, they often are much more difficult to reach and support,” noted Laurie Felder, executive secretary for UMCOR International Disaster Response.
In March, the Syrian conflict marked its fifth anniversary. A ceasefire brokered earlier this year and that went into effect on February 27 continues to hold, allowing space for increased humanitarian assistance. But, as the United Nations noted, “intermittent fighting, shifting conflict lines and persisting deprivation have continued to displace people across the country.”
UMCOR is partnering with the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) to help uprooted Syrians on the outskirts of Damascus find housing and pay the rent. Because of the conflict, housing is scarce and livelihoods remain in upheaval. This partnership offers protection to a vulnerable population, while also respecting and acknowledging their human dignity.
Assistance farther from home
|Aise is 7 years-old. Her parents struggled for years during the civil war in Syria. All of her family members have to work to cover the rent, and other life expenses. Food packages from UMCOR are helping to bring relief to uprooted families. Photo: IBC
Many of the homeless, especially from western Syria, cross the border into Lebanon—a country long accustomed to hosting Palestinian refugees, but now receiving an influx from both Syria and Iraq that is equivalent to one fourth its own population.
Accordingly, UMCOR, through MECC, is providing refugees near Beirut, on the slopes of Mount Lebanon, with food and hygiene kits they might not otherwise receive.
As desperate Syrians find their way along tortuous routes through neighboring Turkey to Greece and beyond, UMCOR is finding new ways to help them.
In Serbia, for instance, UMCOR is working with a new partner to assist Syrian refugees there. NEXUS is a nongovernmental agency that focuses on humanitarian assistance, psychosocial support, and education for vulnerable communities, including refugees, migrants, trafficked persons, and people from marginalized ethnic groups.
In Vranje, a southern Serbian town on one of Europe’s main transit corridors, UMCOR through NEXUS is providing refugees with “day packages” as they make their way through the country. The packages contain food calculated to provide 24 hours’ worth of calories, plus drinking water and basic hygiene items.
Here, 1,500 miles from their war-wrecked homes, Syrian refugees find a measure of hope. “As well as their food and other immediate necessities,” said Felder, “we are working to ensure the safety and dignity of the refugees.”
Your gift to Global Refugee/Migration, Advance #3022144, will help UMCOR meet the needs of those fleeing conflict in Syria and elsewhere.
*David Tereshchuk is a journalist and media critic who contributes regularly to www.umcor.org.