Episcopal Relief & Development Responds to Crisis in Syria

September 12, 2013

Episcopal Relief & Development is responding to the ongoing crisis in Syria through two local partners, the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf (HLID) in Jordan and the Lebanon-based Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC) in Syria itself.  FMEEC aims to assist at least 50 families in the hard-hit city of Homs with building materials and food rations.  HLID is providing services and equipment for people with disabilities in the Zaatari refugee camp near Al Mafraq, just south of the Syrian border.

The current conflict in Syria began in March 2011, during the “Arab Spring” that toppled governments across the Middle East.  In Syria, popular protests were met with opposition by the army, loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.  Fighting is widespread throughout the country and, according to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have died so far and over 2 million refugees have fled to neighboring areas.  The city of Homs, midway between Damascus and Aleppo, has been a frequent flashpoint with both army and rebel forces struggling for control.  According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 60-70 percent of the district’s buildings have been damaged or destroyed due to the conflict.  Business and commerce have ground to a halt, leaving many unemployed.

Responding to the situation in Syria, particularly around Homs, FMEEC is supporting local churches in providing food and essential items such as medicine, blankets, clothing and rent assistance.  The goal of this endeavor is to assist families that have chosen to stay in their homes rather than be displaced to refugee camps outside the country.

Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting FMEEC with the endorsement of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, under the authority of the Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani.  “Syria is part of my diocese and my diocese is a member of FMEEC,” said Bishop Dawani in his letter of endorsement for the project.  “I am fully confident that any funds which Episcopal Relief & Development may provide will be well used to bring relief to those in need.”

In Jordan, where the government and UN agencies estimate more than 385,000 Syrian refugees have fled, the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf (HLID) anticipates that over 8,700 individuals may be in need of disability services, devices and other supports.  Around 130,000 people currently live in the Zaatari refugee camp, which now constitutes the fifth largest city in Jordan, and HLID via the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Network has provided case assessment for over 440 people there since December 2012.  Episcopal Relief & Development support has enabled the CBR Network to provide assessment, diagnosis, counseling, rehabilitation and follow-up services to an additional 300 individuals with hearing, vision, physical or cognitive disabilities.  This includes equipping people with glasses, hearing aids and wheelchairs according to need.

“I am grateful for our partners in Syria and Jordan and for their steadfast work during this difficult time,” said Tammi Mott, Program Officer for Episcopal Relief & Development.  “HLID has been able to expand its ministry to a growing yet underserved segment of the refugee population in need of specialized services, and FMEEC has been able to sustain families in areas that are largely unreachable by outside aid.  The long-term presence and compassionate relationships of our partners in these communities enables them to understand and navigate situations that have proved challenging for others.  May we continue to pray for them and for all who have been impacted by this conflict; and may we join them in their prayers for peace.”

To help respond to disasters like the conflict in Syria, please consider making a donation to the Disaster Response Fund.

To learn more about Episcopal Relief & Development’s partners responding to the Syrian conflict, please visit the following blog posts:

  • Helping Hands for Syrian Refugees (HLID)
  • As Conflict Escalates in Syria, Humanitarian Aid Continues (FMEEC)

Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and development agency of The Episcopal Church and an independent 501(c)(3) organization. The agency takes its mandate from Jesus’ words found in Matthew 25. Its programs work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Episcopal Relief & Development works closely with the worldwide Church and ecumenical partners to help rebuild after disasters and to empower local communities to find lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.