To leave or to stay? Many Syrian and Iraqi families face that question as the conflict continues to rage around them. International humanitarian assistance is dwindling and the patchwork of resources they used to rely on is wearing thin. To leave is to risk their lives over dangerous seas and through countries hesitant to open their doors. But to stay is also a great risk.
For the millions of displaced people still in the region, there is a pressing need for humanitarian relief and peacebuilding, and the money to provide it is decreasing. The lack of funding for relief work is adding to the numbers of people taking huge risks to flee.
Doug Enns, one of Mennonite Central Committee’s representatives for Lebanon and Syria, says MCC’s local partners have told him “it is paramount for the international community to stem the tidal wave of migration by doing everything possible to support the refugees in the region so they wouldn’t feel they had to risk their lives at sea trying to reach Europe.”
In Syria, Iraq and surrounding countries, MCC has 27 ongoing projects that deliver emergency relief. Through our partners, we are providing food and rent assistance as well as essential items such as relief and hygiene kits, clothing and kitchen supplies. MCC is also supporting peacebuilding work, education for displaced children, and trauma healing, and will provide supplies to keep people warm during the coming winter.
One MCC partner, Popular Aid for Relief and Development (PARD) told Enns that “without the MCC voucher project through Canadian Foodgrains Bank, many more Syrian refugee families would be risking their lives at sea. MCC’s sustained food security for these families, over two years ongoing, along with education for their children have given them a sense of dignity, hope and reason to hang in there while they wait to return home to Syria.”
—Emily Loewen is a writer for MCC Canada.
View this story and a video from a PARD worker here: http://mcccanada.ca/stories/mcc-responds-syrian-iraqi-refugee-crisis