Turkey (MNN) — As the refugee crisis in Turkey swells, international aid groups are springing to action.
The Turkish Red Crescent, in partnership with the UN World Food Program, just expanded its food voucher program to nearly two million Syrian and Iraqi refugees living outside the refugee camps. They’re already helping about 250,000 Syrians inside the camps, reports DailySabah.com.
They’re not the only groups responding, says Rody Rodeheaver, President of International Needs.
“It’s not just some United Nations refugee organization, although those are very important,” he states.
“It’s local people. There are Christians who are actively engaged with these refugees.”
IN Network: Turkey
Currently hosting the most refugees in the world at nearly two million, Turkey’s “open-door policy” has turned the country into a holding tank for 1.5 million Syrian refugees, over 25,000 Iraqi refugees, and 12,000 refugees of “other” nationalities.
Those are just the ones registered with the UNCHR; the actual number is likely far greater.
In January, International Needs Turkey Director Behnan Konutgan described the needs and challenges facing their refugee ministry. Rodeheaver just returned from Turkey, and shares the latest updates in this report.
“It’s a positive experience in the midst of a negative situation,” he summarizes, adding that Turkey shares a long border with Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
“Because of that border, they’re an ‘access point’ for refugees.”
It gives International Needs and their in-country partners a prime opportunity to “live out” the Gospel as they meet basic humanitarian needs.
“We’re taking the funds that people send us for our refugee ministry and dispersing those funds through local pastors, who know where the needs are,” Rodeheaver explains.
International Needs is helping refugees inside Turkey, but their work doesn’t stop there.
“Recently, one of our staff people slipped across the border to [Iraq]. And while he was there, he met with Christian churches,” shares Rodeheaver.
The International Needs staffer visited Duhok, a small town in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. He told Rodeheaver that Duhok’s Catholic, Orthodox, and evangelical Christians are working together to help more than 5,000 displaced families.
“The ominous shadow of ISIS is spreading there,” Rodeheaver says. “There is still enormous pressure, and many thousands and thousands of people would like to escape into a country like Turkey.
“Our challenge is to bring hope to the believers who are trapped in these situations, as well as reach out to the Muslims.”
Will you come alongside local pastors as they care for refugees’ physical and spiritual needs?
“They have the ability to build the friendships that allow people to listen when the conversation turns to who Jesus is,” explains Rodeheaver.