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Update on JRS emergency response to Syria crisis
August 06, 2012

Update on JRS emergency response to Syria crisis
Jesuit Refugee Service staff and volunteers are working around the clock to distribute emergency supplies and essential household items to displaced families in Damascus, Homs and Aleppo. (Jesuit Refugee Service)
On a more positive note, JRS expects its activities for children in Dwelaa and Bab Touma centers to re-open at this month. These activities focus on education as well as psychosocial support for the children.

(Amman, Jordan) August 6, 2012 — As the Syrian crisis enters its 17th month, Jesuit Refugee Service teams, in cooperation with civil society volunteer networks, have stepped up their emergency responses. Yet rising displacement, insecurity and food shortages are further complicating these emergency actions.

Some of the networks with which JRS is working have managed to raise funds themselves through local organizations and individuals. But with the increase of shortages, inaccessibility to major centers and a sharp rise in the number of people in need of help, funding remains an urgent necessity.

Damascus. Following the spike in violence two weeks ago in Syria's capital city, JRS support in Damascus currently consists mainly of food distribution. Food packages, distributed by a network of volunteers, contain basic staples to sustain a family of five for 30 days.

At the end of July, many displaced people who fled fighting gathered in public parks and were sent to public schools opened by authorities to provide temporary shelter. However, most of these schools have since been closed. Some people have returned home, but others are still homeless and have returned to public parks.

On a more positive note, JRS expects its activities for children in Dwelaa and Bab Touma centers to re-open at this month. These activities focus on education as well as psychosocial support for the children.

Despite check points, blasts and food shortages, daily life appears to go on as normal during the day. But when the sun falls, the sound of fighting across the city is a sharp reminder that life is far from normality.

Aleppo. According to JRS in Damascus, communications with the city of Aleppo is at best intermittent. Internet and mobile phones have been offline since August 1. Acute shortages of basic commodities include flour, gas and petrol, while electricity cuts last for several hours a day.

Last week, JRS took responsibility for the provision of shelter to more than 2,000 displaced persons in six schools, in addition to the 8,000 previously offered shelter. Some displaced families from Homs and Idleb have opted to return to their homes.

Food supplies from UN World Food Programme and the Red Crescent have been unable to reach the city and, as such, their services have been halted until further notice.

At the JRS Deir Vartan centre, near the Aleppo city center, summer activities (educational, recreational and psychosocial) for children have been stopped since July 23. This is due to unsafe transportation routes for the children, who all come from areas of the city to the JRS center.

Despite the difficulties, there has been a great show of solidarity from local associations, churches and networks of volunteers, who are working day and night to assist those in need.

Homs. As in Damascus, distribution of food baskets and emergency supplies is the main activity of JRS in Homs. JRS teams are also running activities in two schools for 800 children who come from Homs and the surrounding areas.

In the Jesuit Al Ard centre, outside of Homs, shelter is being offered to displaced residents from surrounding areas. At the moment, there are 50 people taking shelter. At times this number has increased to 270 people, depending on the level of violence within their areas.

Jordan. JRS has been active in northern Jordan, developing a family visits program to Syrian refugees and distributing emergency support.

Syrian refugees were included in the JRS educational program in Amman prior to the mobilization of larger organizations or institutions present in Amman. However, since the UN children's fund UNICEF initiated summer catch-up classes for Syrian children, in line with the Jordanian curriculum, the number of these children in need of support from JRS has decreased.

Lebanon. Most services are being provided by local organizations. JRS is currently monitoring the situation.

Turkey. Syrian refugees are in camps close to the borders, but to date no NGOs have been granted access to them.

How you can help:

• $31 a month can support one individual with basic food, hygiene and commodities.
• The average cost of providing assistance inside Syria to a family of ten for six months is $1800.

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Press Contact Information
Mr Christian Fuchs
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