Crisis in Syria
As Week of Compassion accompanies communities across the United States in their recovery efforts after last week’s treacherous tornadoes and weather, WoC is also responding to needs in the rest of the world. Most notably, the ongoing political crisis in Syria has caused tens of thousands to be caught in the crossfire between government and opposition forces. As a result, thousands of Syrians have fled their homes, choosing to escape the violence. Many have migrated to neighboring countries, and many are arriving to more stable areas of Syria. Rough estimates indicate that large numbers of internally displaced persons are arriving into the capital of Damascus from high-conflict areas throughout the country. Specific numbers of the displaced are not available, but entire neighborhoods and villages have reportedly been deserted.
The deteriorating economic conditions led by the 11-month conflict and sanctions imposed on Syria have created high levels of unemployment and inflation. Since March 2011, the Syrian pound has depreciated against the U.S. dollar by nearly 70 percent, significantly affecting ordinary Syrians who now find it difficult to pay for food, rent and fuel. The rise in prices is driving lower-income Syrians more deeply into poverty. In short, the losses in both income and in the value of currency; the rise of unemployment; staggering inflation; and the lack of security have created a pressing humanitarian situation among Syrians. The danger posed to Syrian children by the current unrest is compromising their well-being and rights to protection and development. The emergency is also undermining primary healthcare and jeopardizing child nutrition and health.
Through Church World Service and International Orthodox Christian Charities which has a long track record in responding to humanitarian emergencies in the Middle East, particularly to the needs of the displaced, WoC is responding to the tragic humanitarian crisis in Syria. CWS material goods such as blankets and health kits have already been sent and baby kits and more hygiene kits are on the way.
Additionally, CWS is supporting immediate needs of displaced Syrians including rent assistance; fuel; livelihoods; and proper food; as well as non-food items such as bedding and other household items, clothing and psycho-social assistance. Our CWS-supported response will be based throughout the Middle East region in countries where the displaced are now living.
More than 200 people have been killed and thousands injured in a series of explosions in Congo-Brazzaville last week. Congolese officials say the explosions were caused by a fire in an arms depot on Sunday March 4th. Small detonations continued to shake the capital of the Republic of Congo for a second day on Monday. The series of explosions were so violent that they flattened houses, businesses and churches, killing hundreds and trapping countless others under the falling debris. The blast blew out windows in neighboring Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The number of dead and injured is expected to increase as rescuers clear the debris around churches and other places where large number of people were gathered.
A member from our partner church, the Church of the Disciples of Christ in Congo, reports that many homes haves been destroyed and several members are now homeless. He writes,” Around 9:00 am (Sunday morning, March 4th), a serious catastrophe occurred. I live approximately 75 meters from army Camp Blende. At this very moment, I am outside because the house has been completed flattened. All of the surrounding houses have been flattened. More than 200 have died and not less than 1000 have been injured and this is only the preliminary report. Please ask our friends there to pray with us.”
Through Global Ministries, Week of Compassion immediately responded to this tragedy. We hold our Disciples sisters and brothers in the Republic of the Congo in our hearts and prayers.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
A grave malaria epidemic has broken out in the Disciples area of Democratic Republic of the Congo. Our sisters and brothers in the Congolese Disciples community have run out of medicines. Our dear colleague, the Rev. Bonanga has requested financial assistance. The village of Monieka, which is one the Disciples centers, has had 1,200 cases of malaria. 406 people have died with two thirds of them being children under the age of 5. Malaria is also present in the Disciples areas of Mbandaka, Bolenge, and Ikengo. Week of Compassion and the Africa Area Office of Global Ministries have already responded to the needs of our family there and will continue to do so as long as needs emerge—to be certain that they are getting the medicines and care they need.
We are incredibly grateful for your continued support, partnership, and courageous compassion which enable us to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world.