The problem with Syria

(Photo courtesy World Renew)

(Photo courtesy World Renew)

Syria (MNN) — The Syrian Civil war is an ongoing armed conflict between forces loyal to the Ba-ath government and those seeking to oust it.

The unrest began on 15 March 2011, with popular protests that grew nationwide by April 2011. Today, it has created the worst refugee crisis in 20 years. Ken Little, senior project manager for the World Renew Syrian response, says, “The political situation is still at an impasse, on many levels. The opposition forces are fighting each other, and the regime seems to be staying strong, so we don’t see any quick end to the situation.”

Little shares some detail on what they’re doing through the help of local church partners. “In Jordan, we’re helping 1,000 households every month. Inside Lebanon, working with another partner, we’re helping over 1,825 households. Then, within Syria, we’re working  through the Fellowship of Middle Eastern and Evangelical Churches to help 1,300 households.”

In Lebanon, food and food vouchers are being distributed through local churches, and in Jordan, newly-arrived refugees are receiving emergency food assistance until they can register for international humanitarian support. Within Syria, World Renew is working through several local churches to meet the basic needs of displaced families with cooking supplies, blankets, and other much-needed items.

(Map courtesy World Renew)

(Map courtesy World Renew)

More than 2.5 million Syrians have fled abroad, and another 6.5 million have been internally displaced–a third of the country that has had to leave their homes. The United Nations says that their humanitarian aid effort has been disastrously underfunded. That’s true for their effort at World Renew, too, agrees Little. “People respond pretty generously when the crisis is a natural disaster–something that people could not have possibly caused. But when it’s a conflict situation, people tend to forget that there’s a lot of innocent people that need our help, just as much as in any other crisis.“

For the thousands World Renew is assisting, the lack of funds is looming, even as the crisis grows. With roughly 6,000 people leaving Syria every day, resources are finite.   “We currently have some funding from the Canadian Food Grains Bank that will last till the end of June. After the end of June, our projects come to an end and we’re not quite sure how we’ll be able to continue to assist. We’re hoping and praying that we can continue.”

As rebels fight the military for control of towns and regions across the country, innocent civilians are caught in the crossfire. World Renew is working to support families throughout the region, which means there are believers who have decided to stay put. “Some of these people just are not willing to leave. They feel called by God to stay and serve. It’s a real opportunity for Christians to prove that they are not there just to protect their own interests, but to serve the most vulnerable.” These Gospel moments are hands-on investments in people’s future. “There are volunteers from the local churches who basically oversee the distribution of the food assistance. In doing that, they’re able to express Christian care for the beneficiary families.”

(Photo courtesy Flickr/CC/Freedom House)

(Photo courtesy Flickr/
CC/Freedom House)

Little adds that in this time of great need, much more can be done. Aside from the obvious, there’s a growing need for mobile classrooms, too. “The cry of the hearts of the mums usually is: ‘What are you doing for the education of our children? They’re missing years! They’re not being educated!’ So, there’s going to be a major knock on the effect of this crisis and disaster.”

Through your prayers and support, and through partnerships with other churches and humanitarian alliances, World Renew will continue to expand its response and reach more families in need. “Pray for peace, and  generously give to good organizations that are getting their resources into the right places to those who are most vulnerable.”