IOCC Expanding Operations in Post-War Iraq

Baghdad (July 23, 2003) — Following up on its response to the immediate aftermath of the war in Iraq, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is preparing to deliver hundreds of thousands of dollars in humanitarian assistance to some of Iraq’s most vulnerable citizens.

In the coming weeks, IOCC will open an office and hire staff in Baghdad to expand its operations and meet the growing humanitarian needs there. The office, in cooperation with a network of churches and mosques, will facilitate the delivery of emergency food, medicines and potable water to children, women, the elderly, families in camps and internally-displaced persons in and around Baghdad, said David Holdridge, IOCC Chief Operating Officer.

Holdridge visited Baghdad in April to assess the needs and begin emergency relief distributions on behalf of IOCC, the humanitarian aid agency of Orthodox Christians. He is scheduled to return to Baghdad with other IOCC senior staff later this month.

“IOCC’s goal is to cooperate with churches and mosques in order to meet the most pressing needs of suffering Iraqis,” Holdridge said. “While the situation has improved since IOCC began its first humanitarian assistance two months ago, there are still large numbers of elderly, chronically ill, disabled and destitute who are barely surviving.”

With support from the relief alliance Action by Churches Together and the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IOCC will deliver family food parcels, first-aid kits, medicines and hygiene supplies to some of the neediest Iraqis through a network of churches and mosques.

IOCC and the Middle East Council of Churches used that same network in April and May to distribute 1,000 family food parcels in Baghdad.

In addition to distributing relief supplies, IOCC will provide technical support to church-based organizations in Iraq so that they can assist the needy communities surrounding them, Holdridge said.

Through its expanded presence in Iraq, IOCC will work to create stockpiles of basic food supplies; create stockpiles of medicines and medical supplies; secure clean potable water; and prevent health risks and the transmission of disease.

IOCC’s parent organization, the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, is encouraging all Orthodox Christians to support IOCC’s efforts in Iraq through prayer and giving.

IOCC has worked in the Middle East since 1997 and, in addition to Iraq, has programs in the Holy Land and Lebanon.