IOCC and Patriarchate Increase Efforts to Minister to Syrians
As reported in a series of recent press releases by the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), the partnership between the IOCC and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) continues to minister to people within Syria as well as those displaced by the conflict there. The strife has severely crippled the country's power plants as well as damaged major roads needed to transport heating fuel during the coldest time of year, while instability in the region has led to critical fuel shortages.
"The deteriorating security climate in Syria creates delays in receiving and distributing humanitarian relief items," said IOCC Director of Programs Mark Ohanian. "An added challenge is finding adequate quantities and quality of supplies needed, but IOCC and GOPA are using their longstanding local and regional relationships to ensure uninterrupted delivery of humanitarian aid."On nights that dip below freezing, the IOCC and GOPA distributed diesel stoves and electric heaters to several areas in Syria. During the next four months, the two agencies will also be distributing winter clothing kits to internally displaced children and parents who were forced to flee their homes with no personal belongings. The kits will provide a warm winter coat, wool scarf and gloves, as well as pajamas, socks and undergarments. More than two million Syrians have been internally displaced or driven from their country in search of safety and shelter. Inside Syria, IOCC is one of only a handful of humanitarian agencies reaching people in need that UN agencies and others are unable to access.
IOCC/GOPA have also responded to the urgent humanitarian needs of Syrian refugees now living in Jordan and in Lebanon. As thousands of refugee women and children arrive each day in Jordan's Za'atari Camp and Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, IOCC is working earnestly in the host countries to keep up with the growing demand for urgent relief items such as blankets, heaters, hygiene items, and winter clothing. They also provided new school uniforms to 6,000 school-aged refugee girls living in the camp and in Jordanian host communities. The uniforms provided a measure of comfort to the children who have endured a great deal. "The effort to assist Syrian refugee children is critical to ensuring their emotional well-being," Ohanian noted.