IOCC Issues Emergency Appeal for Middle East Crisis

Baltimore, MD (July 21, 2006) — On July 12 hostilities broke out along the border between Israel and Lebanon. Daily bombardment of Lebanon since that time has led to a vast humanitarian crisis. This follows renewed violence in Gaza that began in June and continues to escalate daily, causing the humanitarian crisis in that area to deepen.

International Orthodox Christian Charities is issuing an Emergency Appeal for the Middle East, with a goal of raising $500,000 for its initial response to the dire and deteriorating situation.

Areas of Lebanon, particularly in the south, have been devastated. Bridges have been destroyed and many roads are impassable. Airports and power supplies have been bombarded. Civilian casualties have inundated hospitals; with children being disproportionately affected. Of particular concern to the humanitarian community are the people displaced from their homes, estimated by the Lebanese government and United Nations to exceed 500,000 persons, who are in need of shelter, food, safe drinking water, sanitation, and medical assistance. Approximately 140,000 of these have taken refuge in Syria and other neighboring countries.

“People have fled their homes in various regions that are affected by the military operations in Lebanon and are sleeping in schools, monasteries, and anywhere they can find shelter,” stated Linda Shaker, IOCC Program Coordinator for Lebanon based in Beirut. “Our initial emergency response will include delivery of food, water, bedding, hygiene parcels, and medications for those most directly impacted.”

IOCC, through its field office in Beirut, is coordinating with the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and international partners to respond to this humanitarian crisis, assisting internally displaced people and refugees and those in need.

In Gaza and the West Bank the situation continues to deteriorate. Damage to a power plant in Gaza in June interrupted electricity and also supplies of clean water. New restrictions on border crossings have further limited movement of people and supplies. IOCC Head of Office in Jerusalem, Nora Kort observed, “A new appeal for Gaza is urgent. The need for food, detergents and sanitary items is huge. Food and medicines for the chronically sick patients, water, fuel and sanitary items came first on the list at a recent meeting in Gaza City.” Through its field offices in Jerusalem and Amman, IOCC has been cooperating with the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem to respond to the crisis there.

IOCC has been active in the Middle East since 1997, when it first implemented humanitarian programs in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. With funding from the Greek Government, IOCC is currently implementing an emergency response program in Gaza and recently completed a civil society program for rural Palestinians. IOCC also has various relief and development activities in Iraq and Jordan and has undertaken programs in Lebanon since 2001. Current programs in Lebanon include a USDA-funded Food for Education program.

To help in providing emergency relief, call IOCC’s donation hotline toll-free at 1-877-803-4622, make a gift on-line at, or mail a check or money order payable to “IOCC” and write “Middle East Crisis 2006” in the memo line to:

P.O. Box 17398
Baltimore, Md. 21297-0429