Syria – Reaching Refugees

Refugees fleeing the on-going violence in Syria are finding help in northern Iraq. The Kurdistan Regional Government is providing three meals a day for more than 172,000 people, while supplying sufficient shelter, medical care, and in some cases even electricity. Samaritan’s Purse is partnering with the government to provide mattresses, nappies, blankets, pillows, and other items to hundreds of families living in camps.

For the past month, more than 50,000 refugees have streamed into neighbouring northern Iraq. Thousands more are coming every day for fear of their lives as international tensions continue to rise and a targeted military strike against Syria looms. The UN reports that more than half of all of the refugees pouring over the border from Syria are children, and thousands of youngsters have crossed unaccompanied or have been separated from their families during the journey.

Samaritan’s Purse has a team on the ground working with a local partner to provide emergency food and other supplies. We have delivered tons of relief commodities for distribution in two camps – one is home to around 15,000 refugees and the other to 4,000 people. But there are other people – families unaccustomed to asking for help – who are falling through the cracks.

This week, Samaritan’s Purse distributed through our local ministry partner 22 household relief kits that will provide 107 people with supplemental food for up to one month. These kits included cooking oil, rice, bulgar, chickpeas, lentils, sugar, beans, pasta, powdered milk and tomato sauce.

The families who received these kits are living outside one of the largest refugee camps, and many of them have not received any government assistance since arriving in northern Iraq.

“Most of the people here do not fit the typical Western view of a refugee,” said Rich Peavy, a Samaritan’s Purse staff member who is part of our relief efforts in northern Iraq. “Many are well-educated, middle class families that likely never imagined having to leave a life behind and fleeing to another country.”

One of the Forgotten Families

Salih, a father of five, left his two-story house and factory job making shoes in Syria for safety in Kurdistan about five months ago. Finding work is a significant challenge for any refugee. It’s even more difficult for Salih because he needs a crutch to walk – the result of a childhood injury that severely limits use of one of his legs and his right arm.

His two sons, ages 16 and 15, have found a few odd jobs to help support the family. But Salih spends most of his time begging for money at busy intersections. He found out about the kits from a local believer who saw him on the street and, like the Good Samaritan, did not pass by on the other side. “I heard about the distribution when a church member stopped to give me some extra change and invited me,” Salih said.

Salih is grateful for what Samaritan’s Purse is providing through the local church. The extra food for his children will provide a respite from some of the daily pressure of putting food on the table. “You have really helped us,” he said. “Thank you, may God bless you.” His 5-year-old daughter, Hanadi, was mostly excited about the powdered milk. The evidence stretched across her face as she smiled ear-to-ear the entire time her family was at the distribution. It was obvious that this is a ministry her family appreciated.

Samaritan’s Purse is planning to assemble 200 additional household kits to support future distributions while we continue to identify additional ways of providing relief in Jesus’ Name to Syrian refugees.

We are continuing to monitor this developing situation and will provide updates as more details become available.

Please pray that God will be glorified as we help meet the needs of the refugees, for peace in Syria, and for those suffering the horror of being caught in the middle of brutal conflict.

Samaritan’s Purse supports local ministry partners in the region as they provide physical help to suffering people in Jesus’ Name. Samaritan’s Purse is providing emergency food and other supplies as refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria are pouring into northern Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.