Conflict and Humanitarian Crisis in Syria

Yet another conflict in the Middle East, many might think. It is often difficult, and certainly confusing, to follow the chain of political events that have happened across the Middle East since the so-called Arab Spring of last year. Uprisings across the region led to outright revolutions and political change, and Syria has attempted to follow suit. In March 2011, popular protests began in Syria, but were confronted by harsh government crack-downs which spired into catastrophic violence. As you have undoubtedly tracked, the ensuing situation in Syria has been anything but easy to watch. For well over one year now, far too many people have died-over 14,000 according to latest reports-and it does not seem as if the fighting will stop any time soon, as the ceasefire brokered by the UN has been violated by both the government and opposition forces. It also appears that the conflict is becoming more sectarian in nature, which could ultimately lead to all-out civil war.

In addition to the fighting, high rates of inflation, unemployment, and economic sanctions have meant great hardship for the Syrian people. Our colleagues from International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) report that “the combination of increasing levels of violence, poor access to services, and disruptions in livelihoods is putting more lives at risk.” IOCC is the primary partner organization implementing our coordinated ecumenical relief efforts in Syria, supported by Church World Service (CWS). Colleagues at Church World Service have confirmed that “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.” Through CWS, IOCC, and the ACT Alliance, Week of Compassion has provided health care, medical treatment, baby kits, hygiene kits, blankets, rent assistance, fuel, food packages, clothing, and psycho-social assistance.

Your gifts to WoC are already at work as we respond through these ecumenical partners as well as through the Middle East Area Office of Global Ministries. Since the violence has escalated and the tragedies seem to mount daily, WoC has channeled funds to Global Ministries local partners in the region. To join in prayer with the Syrian people, click here. For other information from our Global Ministries partners, click here.

What is clear is that people are suffering. Our sisters and brothers, connected to us as fellow children of God, are in need. The pain we feel in witnessing the many deaths and ongoing violence is profound. To reach out with courageous compassion to those facing unthinkable violence, hunger, and displacement, please [link to donate page].  “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it” (1 Corinthians 11:26).

Thanks be to God for the opportunity to honor our Syrian brothers and sisters.