IOCC Expands Relief Efforts in Syria


Displaced Syrian youth fill their days volunteering for IOCC and relief partner GOPA (Photo: GOPA)Displaced Syrian youth fill their days volunteering for IOCC and relief partner GOPA (Photo: GOPA)Baltimore, MD (IOCC)  Recently, His Beatitude Ignatius IV, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, issued an appeal for humanitarian assistance to all Syrians who have been victims of violence in their country. "Syrians, in spite of their religious backgrounds, have the right to live in their country with pride and dignity. It is important for us as Orthodox Christians to help whoever extends their hand to ask for assistance regardless of their background."

In that spirit, the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), a member of the ACT Alliance, is working in partnership with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA), to respond to the urgent needs of thousands of internally displaced Syrian families. Katia, age 20, is one such person. Her days as a kindergarten teacher in Sabil, Syria, are a distant memory, since eight months ago, she and her family fled their home to escape fighting in the neighborhood, and have been displaced ever since. Left with no job and nothing to do, Katia turned to a local church for guidance, and is now helping assist other Syrians who were driven from their homes by the conflict that has engulfed Syria.

Katia represents a small but growing group of dozens of displaced Syrians who are volunteering their time and talents in the Homs region to help IOCC distribute bedding and personal health kits, deliver humanitarian aid to people's homes, and work in teams to visit displaced families and assess their most pressing needs for assistance.

The destructive and widespread conflict in Syria has left more than 1.2 million men, women and children displaced in their own country. IOCC is expanding its response to the spreading humanitarian crisis with the staffing of two new regional offices in Homs and Wadi al Nasara, and plans to open a third office in Aleppo. The expansion locations were selected to increase and improve IOCC's access in delivering humanitarian aid to the affected Syrian people in those areas.

For volunteers like Katia, the plight they share with other displaced Syrians has forged a common desire for life as it was before the conflict turned their world upside down. "We are all displaced, so I share the struggles of displaced families and the difficulty of life," she says. "I feel that it is our duty to help one another, to stand together and to bring comfort to one another."

HOW YOU CAN HELP

You can help the victims of poverty and conflicts around the world, like those in Syria, by making a financial gift to the International Emergency Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief as well as long-term support through the provision of emergency aid, recovery assistance and other support to help those in need.

To make a gift, please visit our website, or call toll free at 1-877-803-IOCC (4622), or mail a check or money order payable to IOCC, P.O. Box 17398, Baltimore, MD 21297.