(Amman) October 12, 2012 — Like many other people and places throughout Syria, Jesuit Refugee Service staff and buildings have not been spared from the violence of the conflict. Movement is constrained, goods deliveries are delayed and buildings are destroyed and evacuated. Despite these setbacks, JRS and local networks of solidarity have continued to provide emergency support.
The most recent estimates by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [PDF] puts the number of Syrians in need of assistance at 2.5 million, with more than 300,000 refugees located in neighboring countries. It is also estimated that 31,000 people have died as a result of conflict since March 2011.
Aleppo. Last month, the JRS Deir Vartan center, located in disputed territory of Midan, served as a battle ground for rebel and government forces. Consequently, Deir Vartan is partially destroyed and, for the moment, inaccessible to JRS staff. The field kitchen was relocated to new premises where 10,000 hot meals could be distributed daily to displaced Syrians.
According to the OCHA, 600 schools across Syria are being used as shelters. JRS has taken responsibility for five of the 30 in Aleppo, also providing food, non-food items and cash assistance to 4,000 people. However, as winter approaches temperatures will significantly drop and the displaced Syrians without access to shelter leaves cause for concern.
Damascus. A spate of large explosions in recent days has heightened tensions yet again amongst the local population. The academic year has restarted, but according to JRS staff in Damascus, functioning schools are overloaded and transportation costs to and from classes are prohibitive.
In an effort to alleviate this problem, JRS provides nearly 500 children educational support, cash assistance for transport costs, sports and recreational services. Opportunities for children to create handicrafts, music and art are offered to the students to encourage self-expression and emotional release from the trauma of conflict.
"Our focal point at the moment is activities which support children. They suffer from displacement and disruption, but also from the terrible situation, the events they witness and the trauma in their families when they are not themselves the direct victims," JRS Middle East and North Africa Director Fr. Nawras Sammour S.J.
JRS is coordinating the provision of emergency assistance in the form of food items, household goods, mattresses, cooking utensils and hygiene products to 900 families in Damascus. An additional 1,000 families in the surrounding areas receive indirect support from JRS through Syrian networks of solidarity working to alleviate the crisis.
Homs. The JRS centers in Homs, Al Mukhales and Al Waer, have shifted from summer activities to remedial classes for students in order to adequately serve the needs of children returning to school. Every afternoon for two hours, 800 students receive educational support at the two centers. Fourteen children with disabilities are also participating in a program specially designed to meet their needs.
Future plans include supporting a school in the Marmarita valley, which lies near the border with Lebanon. The population of this border region has tripled, bringing the percentage of displaced to 75 percent of the total. Consequently, authorities in the area are unable to meet the education needs of displaced children.
Support for 500 families in Homs and surrounding areas is ongoing, with many residents returning home from other places, because nowhere in Syria is free from the scourge of war.
Neighboring countries. In Jordan, the UN refugee agency estimates there are 200,000 Syrians; the area of greatest need is education. Jordanian authorities are in need of assistance and resources to meet the needs of Syrians.
In Amman, the JRS informal education project continues to welcome Syrians, and the family-visits team still maintains contact with 200 Syrian families, and provides them with cash and food assistance. The majority of Syrians in Jordan live outside Za'atari refugee camp, where they struggle to meet their daily needs.
Thanks to local coordination with Jesuits in Lebanon, JRS has begun undertaking visits to Syrian refugee families there, looking to see what individualized support can be provided. A more in-depth needs assessment is currently being carried out.
NGOs, including JRS, are still unable to gain access to the camps along the Turkey-Syria border as they are under the sole responsibility of the local Red Crescent.
How can you help? Below is a list of items that people in Syria urgently need as we head towards the harsh winter months. With your financial help, we can alleviate suffering of Syrians.
$40 helps to support one child for one month at our centers in Syria where they participate in educational, recreational and psychosocial activities. An additional $33 ensures their daily food complement.
$80 provides about 25 gallons of heating oil for winter
$90 provides a mattress, bedding linen and two blankets
$105 pays for a monthly food distribution package for one family of 5 people
$135 pays for a complete clothes, jacket and shoes kit for winter for one person.
$180 is the average rental cost of an apartment for one month
$650 pays for a basic necessities kit for a refugee
$1950 suffices to feed a family of ten for six months
$2525 pays for one hot meal for one day for 5,000 people who are sheltered in schools in Aleppo. That’s a cost of 0.51 cents for each meal.
JRS will continue to reach out to the silent majority longing for peace and prosperity for their families, friends and compatriots.
To help support the JRS emergency project, please click here and select JRS Middle East refugees on the drop-down menu.