UCC supports Middle East Partners' response to growing humanitarian crisis in region

July 27, 2006

As the crisis in the Middle East escalates, One Great Hour of Sharing is supporting the relief work of our Global Mission partners. Initial grants totaling $75,000 have been rushed to partners.

As the crisis in the Middle East escalates, One Great Hour of Sharing is supporting the relief work of our Global Mission partners. Initial grants totaling $75,000 have been rushed to partners including, Church World Service (CWS), the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue (FDCD), The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) to support efforts to provide immediate relief to displaced persons across Lebanese families seeking shelter in local schools in Beirut.

Additional funds are greatly needed. Click here to make a secure on-line donation.

Situation

Two areas of the Middle East are generating grave concern, Lebanon and the West Bank/Gaza.

In Lebanon, Israel has enforced a blockade by air, sea and land and has conducted bombing attacks in response to the capture of two Israeli soldiers on the Lebanon-Israel border by militia of Hezbollah, a Lebanese Islamic political party. The incident has been escalated by both Hezbollah and Israel. Hezbollah has launched rockets into Israel, with damage to property and loss of life as far south as Haifa, Israel's third largest city. The Israeli strikes are reportedly escalating in strength and frequency as civilian dwellings have been struck and have collapsed in numerous areas including Beirut and surrounding suburbs and communities. Civilian casualties have reached over 300 dead and 450 wounded. Over 400,000 internally displaced have taken refuge in public and private schools in different regions of Lebanon.

In a statement earlier this week, Guirgis I. Saleh, the general secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) said Lebanon was experiencing a "catastrophic humanitarian crisis," especially in regards to food and medicines. "Hence, all efforts should be deployed by the international community, Churches and ecumenical councils and organizations worldwide to bring their support to ensure the basic requirements of the Lebanese population, and to work on a cease fire."

The prime minister of Lebanon, Fuad Siniora, declared Lebanon to be a disaster area. The national ministry of health has prepared an immediate emergency plan and has taken responsibility of hospitals and evacuation of injured Lebanese. This, as evacuations of foreigners in Lebanon continues.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in the Israeli-occupied territories of the West Bank/Gaza continues to worsen, according to the United Nations. In a report released Wednesday, the UN said the situation in Gaza in particular had become dire in recent months, with poverty rates in the area now standing at 75 percent.

Response

One Great Hour of Sharing and Global Ministries is supporting the relief of CWS, MECC, NCDC and IOCC to provide food, mattresses, clean water, and diapers. In addition we are assisting with the provision of water tanks and sanitation to 100 displaced centers and school as well as materials for psycho-social rehabilitation activities through 10 displaced centers. CWS is preparing shipments of food, health kits and other relief items.

The internally displaced families are primarily located in Saida, Mount Lebanon, Tripoli, Beirut and Beqaa. Others to be served include families stranded and isolated in their villages and towns located in southern Lebanon and southern suburbs of Beirut. (The numbers of internally displaced are expected to increase if Israeli attacks continue.) Most families average between 5 to 8 members, mostly children, women and elderly dependents.

In regards to the Occupied Territories, One Great Hour of Sharing and Global Ministries will support any expanded appeals that will reflect the changing situation and activities of implementing members due to the escalating violence. Due to the difficulty of delivering materials and aid to Gaza, we anticipate it will be another two weeks before we receive a specific appeal.

Finally, UCC and Disciples Officers and groups have issued and signed on to statements and open letters of concern about the Middle East. www.globalministries.com.

How you can help

1. Please pray for the people of Lebanon, Israel and Palestine and all those impacted by this conflict.

2. To help those affected by this disaster you may send gifts payable to your congregation marked "Middle East Crisis", with the request they are sent through your Conference office on to Wider Church Ministries.

OR

3. Send gifts payable to Wider Church Ministries and marked in the memo portion "Middle East Crisis", to Wider Church Ministries; 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115.

OR

4. Make a secure on-line donation now.

 

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