Preliminary Report on Emergency Aid

Preliminary Report on Emergency Aid
provided by the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate in Damascus to displaced Syrian families

To whom it may concern

Distribution of emergency aid began at the beginning of February 2012 to families displaced from the city of Zabadani to the city of Bludan (thirty miles from Damascus.) About three hundred and fifty families were assisted with food rations, such as sugar, rice, tea, hummus, lentils, durum wheat, tinned meat, jam, baby food, and other supplies, such as nappies, dishwashing liquid, soap, cleaning materials, matches and candles, etc. to the sum of fifty US dollars or thirty pounds sterling per family.

After considerable population displacement from Homs and Qusair cities, the Patriarchate took the initiative of creating a central Emergency Relief Committee together with several parish sub-committees to cater for displaced persons. Emergency aid packages, including food, foam mattresses, cleaning materials and baby essentials were delivered to about one hundred families.

Subsequently, the number of displaced persons dramatically increased from three hundred to eighteen hundred families of various denominations and religions. So far we have been able to make distributions on about twelve consecutive occasions, thanks to donations made to the Patriarchate through HB Patriarch Gregorios III Laham and HE Archbishop Joseph Absi, and thanks to the efforts of generous people and competent parishioners.

Children of the Patriarchal School made a donation of food parcels, including sugar, rice, cracked wheat and other items.

We donated seven hundred and fifty school bags at the beginning of the school year to families in need.

We also provided one thousand food parcels to the besieged city of Rableh, and then three hundred food parcels to the city of Tal Kalakh. These donations contributed to resolving disputes and tensions among the various parties to the conflict in cities under the aegis of the National Reconciliation Committee.

Following an agreement with the United Nations Development Programme, we distributed six hundred packages of cleaning materials and general health items in the Governorate of Deraa (two hundred parcels in Deraa city, two hundred in Khabab and two hundred in Ghabagheb.) We are also in the process of implementing the second stage of the UNDP agreement for the distribution of mattresses, blankets, sheets, towels and kitchen utensils to about eight hundred and fifty families.

We also donated one hundred food parcels to people in the Sayda Zeinab region in coordination with Sheikh Fadi Burhan.

Thanks to a donation from the Pontifical Mission, we distributed eight hundred food parcels to the districts of Bludan and Zabadani as well as distributing two hundred and sixty food parcels to the region of Khabab in the Archeparchy of Hauran.

Five hundred food parcels were donated to the inhabitants of Harasta and an additional four hundred and fifty food packages to the inhabitants of Daraya after their displacement from their homes due to acts of violence in their respective areas.

The sum of sixty thousand dollars in cash, equivalent to fifty dollars per household, was distributed to one thousand two hundred families as aid from the Pope [Benedict XVI] and the Synod of Bishops in Rome.

Assistance was also provided by the Middle East Council of Churches in the form of two hundred and fifteen parcels of children’s winter clothing and one hundred and sixty-five parcels of blankets, sheets, pillows, towels etc.

We also provided medical assistance for four hundred and fifty patients, including forty-seven surgical operations and four hundred prescriptions worth an estimated one and a half million Syrian pounds in the course of 2012.

The Patriarchal School has incurred new financial burdens and will require additional assistance to meet the shortfall, as it has lost part of its revenue due to student withdrawals. Some sixty per cent of its one thousand three hundred and fifty students were withdrawn when the school had to relocate from a danger area to a new site. The school will eventually need to repair its shell-damaged premises. Overall losses are estimated at half a million dollars.

Need is increasing due to the prevailing conditions in the country, which requires continuous sources of funding to be able to cope, as it is estimated that it costs about fifty thousand dollars for every monthly distribution of food aid, in addition to other costs such as staff salaries for administrative workers, stationery, transfer fees and bonuses, totalling some fifteen hundred dollars a month.

Help from the Patriarchate can be classified as food, medical treatment and prescriptions, rent support, help with restoration of damaged homes, or assistance to families of victims and abductees and others impoverished by the crisis.

Any person in need may fill in an application form about him or herself and any dependent family members, supplying details of usual place of residence, phone number, age and occupation or studies. He or she will then be contacted to determine a specific day for distribution. Once the Committee has the necessary means of assistance, volunteers fill bags of available aid. We created a warehouse and hired a secretary for the warehouse to manage the goods and minimise wastage. A secretary manages the orders and written communications and an accountant deals with the accounts. There is also a Purchasing Committee to ensure that goods are bought at the best prices, as well as a team of volunteers to visit homes of needy families to assess their situation and requirements and ensure that they receive subsidies sufficient for their needs.

The current urgent need is for the sum of three hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars to pay for food parcels, house rents, surgical operations, medicines and administrative expenses.

Father Maher Mansur