As the levels of violence continue to rise throughout Syria and the rest of the Middle East, the Mennonite Central Committee is launching an appeal for donations. MCC wants to collect $500,000 in cash donations, as well as relief kits to assist its partner organizations in the region as they provide humanitarian aid to those that have been displaced by the escalating violence in Syria. This is the first crisis response in the region by MCC since the Syrian uprising began last January, and the organization has had workers in the region for the past 60 years working with local groups in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Palestine and Israel.
“Our partners have recognized that the tension is only going to grow, and they believe that some of that can be averted if we respond now,” said Darren Kropf, community engagement associate at MCC Ontario. “We can reduce violence in the community if we have a strong response, and we can help out those who have been displaced by the violence.””] Some 20,000 Syrians have already fled into Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, and the flow of people is increasing. The violence is connected with the widespread wave of upheaval referred to as the “Arab Spring” which began in Tunisia in December of 2010, and spread to Syria a month later.
The Syrian government has deployed its army in response to the uprisings, and several cities have been besieged, with the estimated death toll surpassing 10,000. Protesters are seeking democratic reform and the end of oppression.
While the flow of people fleeing the country is increasing, Kropf said that the organizations role in the region for six decades uniquely positions them to help.
“This is something we need to do now rather than wait for a full-scale crisis or civil war.”
A significant portion of MCC’s response will be to help partners in Lebanon expand efforts that strengthen conflict prevention and disaster preparedness, including media training, trauma training, and more.
In Syria, the organization is providing more than $100,000 to help local organizations provide food baskets to 500 families for six months, as well as daily cash allotments for bread, medicine, and to cover other costs.
This month MCC is also sending two shipping containers with 5,830 school kits, 6,900 hygiene kits, 7,350 blankets, and 1,229 relief kits to Jordan.
Anyone interested in making a cash donation can contact MCC Ontario head office at 50 Kent Ave. in Kitchener, 519-745-8458. They will also accept relief kit donations, and you can visit their website to learn how to assemble one, http://ontario.mcc.org.