The executive director of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada says the civil war in Syria is likely to worsen and more must be done for the people affected by the conflict.
Don Peters recently visited Lebanon, where up to one million Syrian refugees are living in desperate need of shelter, food and medical assistance.
MCC began its Syria crisis campaign last year with an initial goal of $500,000. The total has now surpassed $1 million. Peters is calling on MCC supporters, and all Canadians, to help MCC meet the new goal of $1.5 million.
“There is much, much more work to be done. This is an ongoing disaster. The United Nations agencies haven’t yet kicked in with the amount of assistance that these people need. And other agencies, such as MCC, are going to have to continue their support,” he said.
To date, MCC has dedicated more than $4 million to programs in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. That includes cash contributions, as well as material resources such as blankets, relief kits, clothing and footwear. Here in B.C., nearly $55,000 has already been donated for MCC’s work in the region.
The situation in Syria and its impact on neighbouring countries changes almost daily, so MCC staff and partners are constantly monitoring the needs. That people are desperate for help is obvious.
“Our partners are counting on us to help at this critical time and we need your help to increase our support,” says Phil Schafran, MCC B.C. Director of Donor Relations and Communications. “Let’s also continue to pray for an end to the conflict and a lasting peace for the region.”
Peters says his trip gave him a new appreciation of the value of the material aid given and the peace-building programs that are already in place. He had a unique opportunity to meet with church leaders and other partners from Syria, who were able to travel to Lebanon for a few days. Peters says they are courageous people, working in risky and difficult conditions.
“What really struck me was that maybe half of the people we met were themselves displaced from their homes. And yet they are still caregivers for others. They said this is our situation now and this is what we need to do. Their dignity and poise is remarkable.”
It’s estimated that more than 70,000 people have died in the ongoing conflict. More than three million are displaced, either within Syria or to neighbouring countries.
Those wishing to support this relief effort can do so by sending a cheque made out to MCC BC and marked for Middle East Response, to Box 2038, 31414 Marshall Road, Abbotsford, BC V2T 3T8. Credit card donations can be made by phone at 604 850-6639 or toll free 1 888-622-6337 or online at donate.mcc.org.
For more information, visit bc.mcc.org.