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In a recent visit to Lebanon and Syria, a delegation from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) had an opportunity to see firsthand the devastation caused by years of conflict. The group also got an up-close view of efforts to breathe new life into Syrian neighborhoods and cities.
Members of the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance National Response Team recently returned from Oakland, California, responding to the latest apartment fire that left four people dead and more than 100 residents displaced. The four-alarm blaze broke out in the three-story, 43-unit building on March 27.
While violence and fear continue to pervade war-torn Syria, Presbyterians across the United States are helping those displaced by the conflict rebuild their lives. Thanks to previous gifts given to One Great Hour of Sharing, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) has been able to respond quickly to the refugee crisis.
For the general overseer of the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) there is trauma and hopelessness in his country, and the only institution that can offer hope at the moment is the church.
Several ministries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have issued alerts and provided information on their activities in response to the ongoing conflict in South Sudan. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 1.61 million people are internally displaced and another 751,000 people have escaped into neighboring countries, including Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, since conflict broke out in 2013.
Heavy rains, mudslides and flooding continue to wreak havoc on parts of Peru, leaving nearly a hundred people dead and hundreds of thousands without homes. The South American country was caught off guard by the rains that began in mid-January but grew worse in the past few weeks causing severe flooding and subsequent mudslides in the region.
The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), a long-time Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) partner, is requesting prayers for victims of violence after several attacks by bandits from neighboring South Sudan in the past two weeks.
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance recently sent a National Response Team to the panhandle of Texas. Recent wildfires have left four people dead, more than 350,000 acres damaged, and as many as 10,000 horses and cattle displaced. An estimated 2,500 animals are believed to have perished in the rapidly moving fires.
For two weeks, a delegation from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) visited 10 villages in the countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia. The villages are participants in the West Africa Initiative (WAI), a partnership of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Presbyterian Hunger Program and Self-Development of People.
A Sierra Leone resident recently said that the drive from Kenema to the Liberian border is like riding six hours inside of a concrete mixer. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) delegates visiting the region agreed with this assessment after making the trip on the all-dirt road.