Responding with Love to the Middle East Crisis

28DEC17_Blog_Family_Photo.jpgImagine this:

After years of struggling in refugee settlements or fleeing from one conflict zone to another, you finally get to go home. But instead of the beautiful house you left behind, you find an empty shell; one with no windows or doors, no furniture and no way of keeping warm. You likely have no access to electricity or water and your ability to earn an income has vanished. Welcome to life in Aleppo, Syria.

Next door, in Mosul, Iraq, you've either stayed in your home or found refuge in a temporary settlement while fighting raged around you.  Conflict has now moved on but with ISIS having cut off all outside air during its occupation, you and your children are on the brink of starvation.  You have no idea where the next meal is coming from and can't remember the last time you tasted fresh water.

Love in action:

As we all know, recent conflicts in Syria and Iraq have killed hundreds of thousands of people and caused millions to flee to neighbouring countries, creating a large-scale refugee crisis throughout Europe. Yet within these war-torn countries lies another issue – those left behind.

According to the UN, there are around 9.5 million people internally displaced within Iraq and Syria, with a total of 24.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Many of these people are in hard-to-reach places or areas that are still besieged. As well as losing loved ones and witnessing unspeakable horrors, most have lost their homes, businesses and the ability to provide for their families. Their needs are both about immediate survival and help to rebuild.

In response, ACCIR began partnering with Preemptive Love Coalition [PLC] in December 2016; an organisation known for its ability to get into hard-to-reach conflict areas and provide aid to neighbourhoods where nobody else will go. Together with PLC and ACC churches around the country, we’ve since been able to see life-saving supplies get through to desperate people in the cities of Mosul, Iraq and Aleppo, Syria. As a movement of concerned churches, we also provided additional funding to PLC to respond to the chemical attack which took place in Idlib, Syria, in April 2017.

Results that speak:

Syria

The people of Aleppo have begun the long, hard work of rebuilding their city since its recapture by government troops in late 2016. With the support of ACC churches, we’ve provided the following support to help those affected:

-  878 food packs with enough food staples to feed a family for a month;

- hot meals, five days a week, for 1,123 displaced families (with meals prepared and served by 158 displaced people, who now have jobs to support their own families);

1,096 sleeping bags to help keep people warm at night (with sleeping bags made by others who have been displaced); and

repairs for 37 damaged homes, which can include restoring access to electricity and running water, and installing doors and windows where they have been lost or damaged. The goal, in most cases, is to make at least one room liveable in each house so that families have shelter while they undertake the longer work of rebuilding the rest of the house.

And in response to the chemical attack, our donations formed part of a broader rapid response, which provided the following assistance.

2,000 hygiene kits to allow families to clean their skin and decontaminate their homes;

2,000 cooking kits, containing pots, bowls and utensils, to replace items tainted by deadly chemicals;

2,000 food packs, with enough to feed a family for a month; and

- educational workshops which taught more than 3,000 people how to recognise another chemical attack, how to put together a makeshift gas mask and how to respond in the days and weeks following an attack.

Iraq

Once the bombs stopped falling in Mosul, families were left with damaged homes and a lack of food, water, jobs and electricity. With the support of ACC churches, we’ve provided the following:

777 food packs with enough food staples to feed a family for a month; and

- 13,229,000 litres of water which was brought in, via trucks, to families and public health centres (while other agencies complete work on repairing damaged infrastructure).

In time, while we continue to ensure emergency needs are being met, ACCIR will also partner with PLC to provide small business grants, training and mentoring to help people rebuild livelihoods lost through conflict.

A hope and a future:

When fighting broke out in Aleppo in 2012, Lina’s worst fear was soon realised – losing one of her children. Her son Ahmed, who Lina describes as “the light of my house and my whole life” was killed in the fighting, aged just 25.

“When I came home and didn’t find Ahmed, I burst into tears and ran around in the streets, and I felt a great depression,” Lina says. “The most difficult thing is losing one’s child … I am a mess because of what happened with my son.”

In order to protect her three remaining children and one grandchild, Lina and her family fled to another part of Syria, where she worked tirelessly to provide for them. When the Syrian army retook Aleppo in early 2017, Lina and her family were relieved to be able to return home. Only, it wasn’t the home they had left behind …

“It was a disaster,” Lina says. “My house has no windows or doors, no chair, no cup, no spoon—nothing at all.” Out of necessity, Lina’s family was forced to crowd into her sister’s house, where they could only afford one meal a day. She yearned for the stability of her own home and a chance to get on with her life. “I wish to live in peace and to feel the warmth and security of my house,” she says.

Thanks to people like you, Lina’s home is one of 25 currently receiving home repairs to enable her to return home. Additionally, the work on her home – and others in the area – is being carried out by other displaced people, helping to provide work to those who need it most.

Thank you for creating hope for people like Lina.

 To learn more about helping the people of Syria and Iraq, visit https://accir-acci.nationbuilder.com/wr164

* Photo courtesy of Preemptive Love Coalition