IOCC Expands Emergency Relief to West Bank

Jerusalem/West Bank (May 2, 2002) — As Orthodox Christians prepare to celebrate Easter, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is working to bring new life to Holy Land communities devastated by the recent violence.

“Now is when people need us the most,” said Nora Kort, head of IOCC’s office in Jerusalem. “A lot of needs have been emerging, especially in terms of food and medicine. You name it.”

According to the IOCC Jerusalem staff, the same West Bank communities that are the focus of a long-term, IOCC rural development project – Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah – are now in desperate need of basic necessities after a month of escalating violence with Israel.

The Greek government has committed $243,000 to IOCC’s short-term relief effort, in addition to $30,000 in IOCC emergency funds, to be divided among food, hygiene items and medicine.

“Today, IOCC received requests from 38 villages in the Ramallah district. They all want food,” she said. “Lots of hospitals are coming to us for medicine and small medical equipment.”

With its extensive network of local partners, IOCC has been making daily distributions of food and hygiene supplies to the most affected Palestinian communities.

On Tuesday, IOCC personnel, accompanied by a representative of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, delivered food to the towns of Rantis and Deir Ballout near Ramallah.

“The need is by far greater, and we’ll be sending more next week,” Ms. Kort said, noting that IOCC’s assistance is going to “the poorest of the poor. It’s going to the right people.”

Today, IOCC participated in an ecumenical convoy to the West Bank city of Qalqilia where food and hygiene parcels were delivered. The hygiene parcels are intended to address the threat of disease and infection.

So far, IOCC has participated in at least four humanitarian convoys. IOCC will continue to participate in the convoys, while focusing its efforts on making direct distributions to the victims of the violence.

IOCC is a member of Action by Churches Together (ACT), an international alliance of church-affiliated relief agencies. Several ACT member agencies also are providing assistance to the region.

IOCC is coordinating its response with the Greek Consulate in Jerusalem and Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World), IOCC’s implementing partner for the medical component of the response.

IOCC, founded in 1992, is the official humanitarian aid agency of Orthodox Christians. It opened an office in Jerusalem in 1997.