Alarmed by the continuing violence in Syria and consistent reports that unrest is likely to escalate and spread to neighbouring countries in the coming months, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has begun preparing for a humanitarian crisis in the region.
About 20,000 Syrians have already fled to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan and the flow of people is increasing.
“The situation in Syria and the surrounding region is dire, with growing fears of civil war,” said Wayne Bremner, executive director for MCC BC.
MCC has launched a $500,000 Middle East Crisis appeal to assist partner organizations as they provide humanitarian aid and build peace.
q Emergency assistance – food, medicine and non-food items for Syrians affected by violence and in need of basic supplies.
q Relief kits – people are encouraged to assemble kits and drop them off at MCC Material Resource Centre in Abbotsford or their nearest MCC Thrift Shop.
q To prepare and prevent the spread of violence in neighbouring Lebanon, a significant part of MCC’s response will assist partner organizations there, expanding efforts that strengthen conflict prevention strategies and disaster preparedness.
Rick Janzen, director of MCC’s programs in the Middle East, visited Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Palestine in early February. He heard people express deep fear and concern about the current situation and how it will affect not only the people of Syria but the potential for destabilization in the region.
MCC has been working in the Middle East for more than 60 years and supports peace and development work in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Palestine and Israel. In Syria, along with support to the Christian community and Global Family projects, MCC also provides vocational training programs for youth with disabilities, medical care for families and peace training for church leaders.
Donations are welcome. Cheques should be made out to MCC BC, marked “Middle East Crisis,” and sent to PO Box 2038, 31414 Marshall Rd. Abbotsford, B.C., V2T 3T8. Donations can be made by phone at 604-850-6639 or toll free at 1-888-622-6337 or online at donate.mcc.org.
For information about making relief kits visit mcc.org/kits/relief.