“Every night I go to bed thinking about what I will feed my family in the morning,” says a Syrian woman who fled with her family to a refugee settlement in Sidon, south of Beirut, Lebanon.

Sadly, her story is all too common. Currently there are 6.8 million people who are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance due to ongoing conflict in Syria.

Responding with Food to People in Need

According to reports from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the conflict in Syria caused a dramatic drop in domestic food production. Production of many crops has dropped by half, and there is massive destruction to irrigation and infrastructure. At the same time, inflation is rampant and the price of many essential food items has risen by 200 percent. Just under half of Syria’s population comes from rural areas, with 80 percent of these relying on agriculture for their livelihood.

Photo: Act Alliance, Paul Jeffrey

Photo: Act Alliance, Paul Jeffrey

That is why PWS&D has been working with Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) to help support people in need because of the crisis. To date, CFGB has committed $3.1 million dollars to fund projects that will provide food items such as rice, chickpeas, pasta and oil to over 33,000 people in the area. CFGB’s response will benefit a further 45,000 people by distributing vouchers to buy food and cooking utensils in local markets, and providing supplemental food to babies between six months and one year.

“Whether people are living as refugees in neighbouring countries, or are displaced from their homes within Syria’s borders, daily life has been interrupted and people do not have access to the food they need–many people are not able to work and normal agricultural production has been crippled in many area,” says Jim Cornelius, Executive Director of CFGB.

Photo: Act Alliance, Paul Jeffrey

Photo: Act Alliance, Paul Jeffrey

Responding to Refugees

Presbyterian World Service & Development is also responding to this emergency through the ACT Alliance, working to meet the immediate needs of people living in refugee camps through the provision of shelter, hygiene kits, clothing and non-essential food items. Children whose lives have been disrupted are regaining a degree of normalcy as staff on the ground provide psychosocial support and education to children and youth.

Respond With Us!

The crisis in Syria, which began in 2011 as a peaceful protest, has worsened in the last months. To date, over 80,000 people have been killed and thousands more wounded. The United Nations estimates that there are over 1.4 million refugees, a number that increases by nearly 8,000 people per day.

Donations to help people caught in the crisis can be made online, by phone 1-800-619-7301 ext. 291, through your church, or by mailing a cheque to the PWS&D office. Please mark all donations “Syria Relief.”

*The CFGB projects are being led by CFGB members Mennonite Central Committee Canada and Canadian Baptist Ministries, with support from Presbyterian World Service & Development, World Renew, Primate’s World Relief & Development Fund, Emergency Relief and Development Overseas, and the United Church of Canada. These projects are undertaken with financial support from the Canadian Government.

Adapted from story by Emily Cain, Canadian Foodgrains Bank.