Since 2011, Syria has been ravaged by a bitter civil war, and over 10 million Syrians have fled their homes to escape the violence. This includes 7.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and some 3.88 million refugees.1 Although Syria has only 0.23% of the world’s population,2 the country is currently the single greatest source of refugees.3
People say, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and that has certainly proven true in the current crisis. The growing worldwide concern about displaced persons and refugees was catapulted into the spotlight on September 2, 2015, with the publication of photos of a three-year-old Syrian boy who had drowned while he and his family were fleeing to Europe.
In the wake of the child’s tragic death, the massive public outcry has begun to put pressure on the U.S. and countries in the E.U. to accept greater numbers of Syrian refugees. However, even those who succeed in crossing international borders face poor living conditions in refugee camps.
As the crisis has deepened over the last four years, IM has responded in several ways. Using American Baptist gifts to the annual One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) offering, American Baptist International Ministries (IM) provided $40,000 to assist partners serving refugees in Lebanon in 2012 and another $50,000 to serve displaced persons within Syria in 2013. Global personnel are working shoulder-to-shoulder with partners in Bulgaria and at the Hungarian-Serbian border.
The Board of Directors of IM officially expressed its long-term commitment to supporting Syrian refugee and IDP communities in the recent International Ministries Resolution on Syrian Refugees. The resolution paves the way for a focused mobilization of human and financial resources to pray for, meet the needs of and prepare to receive Syrian refugees.
As a first step in this next stage of response, IM has sent an additional $10,000 in OGHS emergency funding to provide immediate relief for Syrian refugees and IDPs. Of this grant, IM partners Hungarian Baptist Aid and the Union of Baptist Churches of Serbia have each been given $5,000. The aid will be used to supply food and water, clothing, shelter and medical clinics. Future OGHS grants will support the efforts of all IM partners who are providing relief to Syrian IDPs and refugees
Hungarian Baptist Aid workers went to Serbia to distribute food to refugees waiting at the Serbian-Hungarian border. The packages contained bread, milk and cooked dishes in cans. HBAid also gave financial aid for refugees’ daily provisions.
Hungarian Baptist Aid workers distribute food and financial aid to refugees waiting at the Serbian-Hungarian border.
The pool of OGHS funds available to make initial emergency grants is significantly depleted. Therefore, the ability of IM to provide aid for Syrian IDPs and refugees will depend on giving that is focused on this need. Individuals can make tax-deductible contributions through their local churches, online by credit card or by mailing a check to International Ministries, Attn: Syria Refugee Relief, P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482. All checks should be identified with “OGHS-Syria Relief” on the memo line.
“The world is awakening to the extreme crisis caused by the civil war that started in Syria four and a half years ago,” shares IM World Relief Officer Lisa Rothenberger. “Many of the refugees we are seeing in our media coverage today are Syrians who were uprooted from their homes years ago, and are now desperately trying to make their way to a more permanent place they can call home. They are joined by refugees from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq and Somalia as they travel by land or sea, often for several months and sometimes for longer than a year. Even as we now see their faces, we are reminded that there are almost 60 million people today that have had to leave the place they call home. Our hearts break for them all. And our gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing will remind them that they are not forgotten.”
Learn more about IM’s past and ongoing efforts to support Syrian refugees
News: IM Issues Resolution on Syrian Refugee Crisis
News: $50,000 in OGHS Emergency Relief Funds Sent to Aid Syrian Refugees
Project: Education for Syrian Refugee Children in Lebanon