Syria - Situation Report Update
On September 3, 2013, the number of Syrian refugees passed the threshold of two million, with no sign of this tragic outflow ending. The war is now well into its third year. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 250,000 Syrians are fleeing their country each month.
One of the greatest challenges facing humanitarian efforts is meeting the rising demand. As talk turns to military intervention in Syria, many organizations providing humanitarian assistance are updating contingency plans and pre-positioning stock for a probable increase of needs.
Citing possible displacement of civilians, increased exposure to risk, and reduction in service delivery, humanitarian coordinator Yacoub El Hillo, the highest ranking UN humanitarian official in Syria, says “It’s already a complex situation with profound humanitarian consequences. If you’re talking about five million people displaced internally and two million people who are now refugees in neighboring countries; if you have one million refugee children who are now away from their homes and their schools, this is already a dramatic situation. So imagine if this is to be compounded by a military strike? It will only add to the suffering.”
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) continues supporting our partners in the region who are providing humanitarian assistance to refugees in neighboring countries. PDA's partners in the Syria response include:
- Members of ACT Alliance,
- International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC),
- Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees of the Middle East Council of Churches (DSPR/MECC),
- National Evangelical (Presbyterian) Synod of Syria and Lebanon.
Since 2012, 820,000 people have received humanitarian assistance, including:
EMERGENCY AID — critical food aid and essentials like infant care supplies, personal hygiene supplies, clothing, blankets, mattresses, and essential medicines and medical supplies.
HEALTH AND NUTRITION — assistance in finding functioning health facilities to receive emergency surgeries; and the provision of personal hygiene kits so displaced Syrians can maintain their health where crowded conditions and a lack of water for personal hygiene have resulted in a sharp increase in scabies and other public health maladies.
SHELTER — repair and renovation of buildings to provide safe shelter.
EDUCATION — access to remedial classes, uniforms required for refugees to attend public schools, and repair and expansion of schools to improve the learning environment.
WATER, SANITATION, and HYGIENE (WASH) — repair of wells and water systems to provide safe access to water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene; renovation of sanitation facilities; installation of water filters to remove diarrhea-causing bacteria; and hygiene awareness education.
ECONOMIC RECOVERY — identification of improvement projects such as garbage collection and rubble clean-up to provide employment opportunities that allow people to earn an income and, where possible, to begin the process of recovering.
PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT — workshops to assist Syrians of all ages who have experienced trauma or are suffering from depression or anxiety as they learn to manage stress and cope with loss through workshops that use puppet-making, drawing and drama.
How you can help
Stand in the GAP for disaster survivors as you Give, Act, and Pray.
Give. Please generously share your financial blessings by designating gifts to DR000081 – Middle East. Write “Syria” on the reference line if mailing a check.
- The PC(USA) Office of Public Witness has issued an Action Alert on Syria to oppose military action. Visit their blog to learn how you can advocate for this action.
- More than 26,100 Gift of the Heart school kits have been sent to provide some of the basic supplies needed for children in refugee camps. Learn how to make the kits.
Pray. At this difficult and uncertain time, PDA asks that you keep the people of Syria in your thoughts and prayers. Please pray:
- for all those whose lives have been and continue to be affected,
- for those who have lost friends and family during this crisis,
- for those who are displaced,
- for those working to deliver humanitarian assistance,
- for an end to violence and the beginning of negotiations for a solution that meets the democratic aspiration of the Syrian people,
- that access will be open for humanitarian assistance to get through to those in need.
Visit the Syria disaster response index for previous PDA updates, bulletin inserts and other resources; and the World Mission website for background information on Syria and videos related to the crisis.