IOCC, Partners Begin Emergency Assistance in West Bank

Jerusalem/West Bank (April 12, 2002) — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) has begun providing emergency relief — food parcels, hygiene items and blankets — to areas in the West Bank most affected by the escalating violence.

“The situation is drastic, and the need is increasing,” said Nora Kort, head of IOCC’s office in Jerusalem/West Bank.

IOCC has committed $30,000 in emergency funds to the relief effort, in addition to $100,000 from the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs. IOCC is coordinating its response with the Greek Consulate in Jerusalem, the Greek affiliate of Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) and the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

On Saturday, IOCC expects to participate in a humanitarian convoy to the West Bank town of Jenin to deliver medical supplies, food, blankets, mattresses and tents. More than a dozen humanitarian aid agencies are scheduled to join the convoy. IOCC also is organizing the delivery of emergency food parcels to Bethlehem and Beit Jala in the coming days, Ms. Kort said.

Most of IOCC’s relief activities will be concentrated in the northern region of the West Bank — Nablus, Jenin, Ramallah and surrounding villages – where it already has started a long-term rural development project. That project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is ongoing.

IOCC staff members in Jerusalem are safe and are coordinating the emergency response with local partners. Goods and supplies will be obtained through local procurement. In remote areas, IOCC’s partners will prepare the packages using food staples from their own locations.

Ms. Kort said the initial phase of the IOCC emergency program will last one to three months, to be repeated with additional funding.

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