MCC responds to Syria violence with kits, food
Conflict prevention efforts supportedBy Gladys Terichow Mennonite Central Committee
WINNIPEG, Man. — Mennonite Central Committee is supporting efforts of organizations in Syria and Jordan helping people affected by conflict in Syria.
Many Syrians who have been injured, displaced or are grieving the loss of family members are seeking support for food, medicine and other basic needs.
MCC is appealing for $500,000 and relief kits to assist partner organizations in the Middle East as they provide humanitarian aid and build peace at the community level.
A significant part of MCC’s response will help partners in Lebanon expand efforts that strengthen conflict prevention efforts and disaster preparedness. This includes media training, encouraging dialogue among young leaders and trauma training.
In Syria, MCC is providing about $100,500 to help a local organization provide food baskets to 500 families for six months and small monthly cash allotments for daily bread, medical costs, utilities and other basic needs.
“Families receiving this assistance in Syria have fled the city of Homs and are staying in rural areas,” said Bruce Guenther, MCC disaster response director. “Many have left everything behind — their belongings, homes and livelihoods — to escape to safety. Many have been injured.”
Some reports estimate 70,000 to 80,000 Syrians fled to Jordan by late February. Some of these families are receiving support from Caritas Jordan, an MCC partner agency that has set up distribution operations in Mafraq and Ramtha, two cities near the Jordanian-Syrian border.
In early March, MCC is sending two shipping containers of 5,830 school kits, 6,900 hygiene kits, 7,350 blankets and 1,229 relief kits to Jordan, where supplies will be distributed by Caritas. MCC is also providing Caritas with financial assistance for local purchases of milk powder and diapers.
One of the women receiving support, who identified herself only as Salwa, said she and her husband and four children fled the city of Homs six weeks ago after two neighbors were killed and her husband’s grocery store was taken over by Syrian security forces. They fled to Jordan with the clothes they were wearing.
“Whenever her children hear fireworks [often part of local wedding celebrations] they fear that the violence has followed them from Homs to Jordan,” said Daryl Byler, an MCC representative in Jordan. “Her husband has not been able to find work in Mafraq. She described her family’s most urgent needs as security, milk and mattresses.”
This family has managed to find rental accommodations in Jordan, but housing becomes a problem as more refugees continue to arrive, Byler said.
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