As Conflict Escalates in Syria, Humanitarian Aid Continues

The content and photos in this story have been provided by staff from the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC) and the Rev. Canon Robert Edmunds, Middle East Partnership Officer for the Episcopal Church.

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As has been widely reported for many months, violence and the lack of security in Syria have caused tens of thousands of civilians to flee their homes throughout the country. People are seeking refuge across the borders and in smaller towns like Tartous and Mashta El Helu with the hope that things will subside. However, the latest headlines demonstrate that the conflict continues to escalate and displaced families continue to require assistance.

With great appreciation the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches recently received support from Episcopal Relief & Development. FMEEC is a fellowship of seventeen Protestant churches of the Lutheran, Anglican and Reformed traditions that has member churches throughout the Middle East, and are very active in Syria where its member churches are located across the country. We also maintain close partnerships with Catholic, Syrian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox churches in the region.

FMEEC uses funds to work through committees and volunteers who carry out relief activities and provide services for thousands of the most needy and vulnerable families who have been displaced. Thus far in 2013, FMEEC assisted approximately 130 families (each with four to five members), who were forced out of their villages due to the battles between government forces and militants. Cash, rent for housing, food parcels, clothing, and other relief supplies were provided to families in their new locations, which include places like Tartous, Lattakia, Homs, Damascus, Wadi Al Nasara, Mhardeh, Qalamoun and Qamishly.

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Among the families who benefit from our efforts are Rita (61,) who is cognitively and hearing impaired, and her sisters, Samar (52) and Hanan (46) who left the Hamidiya neighborhood in Homs with nothing else but a few clothes. Now they live in a studio in grinding poverty with no family support. The women are weaving in order to pay for the rent. Although they make beautiful sweaters, hats and other items, the destruction of the local economy means few people have the money to buy their handmade goods. As a result, they are struggling to meet their basic needs.

In the face of an escalating conflict FMEEC works hard to honor the dignity of each person regardless of religion, gender, age or any other consideration. All of the families affected are dealing with the trauma of having lost their jobs and homes, while trying to survive under difficult conditions. We recognize that this could happen to any of us and with the support from Episcopal Relief & Development and other organizations we will continue to provide this much needed emergency assistance.  

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Tammi Mott is a Program Officer with Episcopal Relief & Development. 

Photos: Top, Destroyed Presbyterian Church in Homs, Syria; bottom-left, Sorting of clothing and relief supplies in the village of Yazdieh; bottom-middle, Ecumenical cooperation is a key to the ministry of FMEEC in the village of Mashat; bottom-right, Rita(far right) who is cognitively and hearing impaired with her sisters Samar and Hanan. 

Photo Credit: FMEEC