Peter Makari is the Executive for the Middle East and Europe Office in Global Ministries. Peter recently returned from the region and prepared this update for Week of Compassion.
The Syrian war is now three years old. It has claimed the lives of more than 120,000 people and has forced more than 40% of the Syrian population (over 9 million people) from their homes--they are living either as internally displaced persons, or as refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and several other countries in the Middle East. Many of the refugees are children--some of whom will never see family members again. The tragedy is of an incomprehensible magnitude, yet global attention to the crisis has not nearly been adequate to meet a portion of the needs. See this video for more information.
Church partners in Syria and neighboring countries have been involved in offering humanitarian assistance--food and water, clothing, shelter, and medical assistance--as well as support for programs such as interfaith peacemaking. Dr. Mary Mikhael is an ordained elder in the National Evangelical [Presbyterian] Synod of Syria and Lebanon (NESSL). She is helping to coordinate the NESSL’s response to the crisis, and asks us to “pray for peace and reconciliation and for an end soon to this human tragedy.”
Week of Compassion continues to contribute to the efforts of our partners in the Middle East directly and through global church networks ecumenically. In January, the Disciples’ General Minister and President Sharon Watkins was among a gathering of Christian leaders from Syria and the around the world. They wrote in a statement that, “Our concern is for all people affected by the indiscriminate violence and humanitarian calamity in Syria. Innocent children, women and men are being killed, wounded, traumatized and driven from their homes in uncounted numbers. We hear their cries, knowing that when ‘one member suffers, all suffer together with it’ (1 Corinthians 12:26).” To act on that concern, we must continue to support relief for the hungry and thirsty, the refugee and the displaced, and the children of Syria.
Since 2012, Disciples through Week of Compassion have provided more than $165,000 to assist the relief efforts of our local and ecumenical partners in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Your support of WoC makes this possible. Thank you.
DISASTER IN THE NEWS
Week of Compassion is currently monitoring the mudslide in Arlington, Washington, and will respond as needed. We have been in touch with regional and local Disciples pastors and will meet needs that emerge. Our partners at CWS have let us know that the community has plenty of material resources such as clothing and food to meet the needs of those displaced. There will be needs for Long Term Recovery, and both CWS and Week of Compassion will support that process as needs emerge.
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Pennsylvania, Church Water Damage