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Syria: JRS expands emergency support in Aleppo
August 29, 2012

Syria: JRS expands emergency support in Aleppo
Jesuit Refugee Service staff prepare boxes with essential items for distribution to displaced families in Damscus, Syria. (JRS)
In an attempt to meet the rising demand for food supplies, a field kitchen has been established in Aleppo. One kitchen has the capacity to feed five to seven thousand people per day. The food is prepared and distributed in vats to distribution centers, schools and mosques where people gather to eat.

(Amman, Jordan) August 29, 2012 — Over the past three weeks, fighting has intensified in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. Despite the difficulty to access the city, Jesuit Refugee Service teams — in conjunction with volunteer networks of solidarity — have continued to provide emergency support to the many thousands of displaced families.

To date, JRS is responsible for 11 schools which shelter 6,500 people from Aleppo, an increase of 4,500 in little over two weeks. This is in addition to the 8,000 displaced people from Homs and Idlib who have been receiving assistance from JRS and its local partner networks for several weeks.

Aleppo. In an attempt to meet the rising demand for food supplies, a field kitchen has been established in Aleppo. One kitchen has the capacity to feed five to seven thousand people per day. The food is prepared and distributed in vats to distribution centers, schools and mosques where people gather to eat. Although it is such a large-scale operation, it is an efficient and hygienic system — the cooking utensils used are made of chrome and all vegetables are disinfected and sterilized before being cooked.

The JRS center in Midan, Deir Vartan, remains open for administrative purposes, but all activities have been moved to a different location nearer to the Jesuit residence. Communication lines with Aleppo are intermittent at best, with telephone and internet access regularly being cut. Electricity shortages are still a daily occurrence.

The level of destruction in Aleppo means that there are very few safe places for displaced persons to take refuge. At the moment, temporary shelter is available in schools that were opened by the authorities. However, this is not a permanent solution, and those taking shelter in them remain vulnerable to further violence.

Although the Red Crescent has provided some food supplies, they are not able to secure the delivery of the supplies to areas where people are most in need.

Damascus. Violence also continues in the capital, with bombing and fighting taking place in some neighborhoods. JRS has continued to provide food-baskets and rental assistance to displaced families. Levels of fear and stress are high amongst the civilian population.

Children's activities, which include psychosocial elements to help them cope, are being carried out in schools that have been opened to help shelter the displaced. JRS in Damascus has welcomed several Christian Iraqi families who had attended JRS activities at Deir Vartan, Aleppo. These families had fled from Aleppo to Damascus.

Homs. Activities for 800 children are currently on-going. Since the last update, the number of people residing just outside of Homs at the Jesuit Al Ard Centre has decreased to 50. They receive food and shelter, with recreational, psychosocial and educational activities being run for the children.

The security situation around the Centre is becoming hazardous with rockets recently reaching the property, and limited access to Al Ard by road.

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.
• Rent costs vary but it is approximately $188 per month for basic accommodation for a family.

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

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.

To see photos of our activities you can visit the JRS Aleppo and network of volunteers Facebook page or the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA Facebook page.

To help support the JRS emergency project, please click here and use the drop-down menu to indicate "JRS Middle East Refugees."

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Press Contact Information
Mr Christian Fuchs
communications@jrsusa.org
202-462-0400 ext. 5946