IOCC Congressional Campaign Highlights Relief Work, Urges International Development Support
Baltimore, MD (November 6, 2014) — In an ongoing effort to raise awareness and concern for urgent humanitarian needs around the world, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) has embarked on a strategic campaign to educate Congressional leaders, including members of the Senate Foreign Relations and the House Foreign Affairs Committees, on the organization’s expanding humanitarian programs, and to urge continued support for key international development efforts.
Since June 2014, John Sitilides, a member of the IOCC Board of Directors, and Pascalis Papouras, IOCC government liaison, have met with the offices of 31 U.S. senators and representatives, briefing key staff on the escalating humanitarian needs of more than 10 million people affected by civil war in Syria. They reported on IOCC’s ability to sustain its humanitarian relief efforts throughout most of Syria despite the serious challenges facing the international non-governmental agency network amid warring parties in the beleaguered country.
IOCC’s significant work in the refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan was also addressed, along with the critical support for families devastated by the economic crisis in Greece, vital services for those afflicted by recent flooding in Bosnia and Serbia, efforts to sustain civilians during the military campaigns in Gaza, and the organization’s efforts to address neglected tropical diseases and nutrition in Africa and south Asia through water, agriculture and health programs.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee members and their staffs who received the IOCC representatives included Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-TN), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), as well as Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
IOCC visited the offices of 17 members of the House of Representatives, including those of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH); Foreign Affairs Committee members Reps. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ted Poe (R-TX), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Brad Sherman (D-CA), as well as Reps. Michael Grimm (R-NY), Justin Amash (R-MI), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Bob Latta (R-OH), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Frank Wolf (R-VA).
IOCC is the official humanitarian aid agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America. Since its inception in 1992, IOCC has delivered over $488 million in relief and development programs to families and communities in more than 50 countries. IOCC is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 140 churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.