August 2, 2012
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Syrians who received more than a million refugees fleeing from conflict in Iraq now face the same fate as more than one and a half million Syrians seek refuge from the spreading violence in their own country. International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC)  has redoubled its efforts to provide food and essential items – blankets, stoves and hygiene supplies – to the rapidly growing number of displaced and vulnerable Syrian families. IOCC aid is reaching areas in and around Homs, the epicenter of the uprising that began 16 months ago, and other regions of the country.
"There is a palpable sense of urgency and people are worried about the growing violence throughout the country," said Mark Ohanian, IOCC director of programs, who just returned from Damascus where he met with staff and relief partners. IOCC is working closely with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all The East and Syrian relief partner, Al Nada Association, in an effort to reach as many people as it can and to determine what the most immediate needs are for the growing number of displaced and vulnerable families.
"The situation remains unstable and we know that there are at least a million and a half people within the country who are in need of essential food and other assistance including those who have been displaced and others who have been trapped in their homes. Despite the humanitarian efforts underway, hundreds of thousands of people require immediate food assistance in order to survive."
Efforts by IOCC and its partners to safely distribute relief items to Syrian families is growing more challenging each day as fighting spreads from Homs to the capital city of Damascus. Despite the unrest in Damascus, Ohanian reported that the IOCC aid is still reaching affected families and that more than 123,000 people have been assisted. "We are deeply concerned for the thousands of Syrian families who have been forced to flee their homes and the ongoing assistance that will be required to help meet their basic food and hygiene needs," said Ohanian. "In addition to those who have been displaced in Syria, there has been a recent surge in the number of people escaping to neighboring countries, especially to Lebanon and Jordan where IOCC is also working to provide assistance." The United Nations reports more than 129,000 people have formally registered as refugees in neighboring countries, while other reports put the number closer to 200,000 people who have fled Syria.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
You can help the victims of poverty and conflicts around the world, like those in Syria, by making a financial gift to the International Emergency Response Fund  which will provide immediate relief as well as long-term support through the provision of emergency aid, recovery assistance and other support to help those in need.
To make a gift, please visit www.iocc.org  or call toll free at 1-877-803-IOCC (4622), or mail a check or money order payable to IOCC, P.O. Box 17398, Baltimore, MD 21297.
ABOUT INTERNATIONAL ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHARITIES
IOCC is the official humanitarian aid agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in North and Central America. Since its inception in 1992, IOCC has delivered more than $400 million in relief and development programs to families and communities in 50 countries.