IOCC Receives $5.16 Million for Lebanon Development

U.S. Government Grants Target Most War-Ravaged and Marginalized Areas with Aid for Villages, Schools, Farms, and Small Businesses

Beirut (December 13, 2006) — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) has received two grants from the United States Government to significantly expand its ongoing work to help Lebanon recover from the war. A grant of $3.46 million has been awarded to IOCC by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the repair and development of 154 public schools in southern Lebanon, the Beqaa valley, and Mount Lebanon. A $1.7 million extension grant from the U.S. Government’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) will expand IOCC’s current program to help returnees rebuild their lives in southern Lebanon and southern Beirut.

IOCC, which has been operational in Lebanon since 2001 with a school feeding and nutrition program, will be able to draw on its extensive network of cooperation between public schools, municipalities and churches to launch its new initiative for Lebanon’s public schools. IOCC’s two-year USAID-funded program will benefit 90,000 public school students (about 37% of Lebanon’s total public school population) with repairs to sanitary facilities, new equipment and furniture, laboratory supplies for science instruction, and new computer labs with internet access.

“Throughout this crisis, IOCC’s work has been distinguished for delivering quality aid that meets the highest humanitarian aid standards,” says His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP, the primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America and a member of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), the organization that founded IOCC.

IOCC’s school development program will also improve the learning environment by training students and parents on the importance of health and nutrition through educational materials and the creation of parent associations. “Children from low-income families represent a significant percentage of public school enrollments in Lebanon,” says IOCC Director of Operations Matthew Parry. “Especially in the immediate aftermath of an armed conflict, children require special protection and care, over and above what the family and extended family can normally provide,” he added.

The $1.7 million grant will extend IOCC’s current $2 million OFDA-funded program to help returnees in 64 towns and villages located south of the Litani River, the area that is closest to the Israeli border and that suffered the most damage during last July’s war. Assistance will also be focused on the heavily destroyed areas of southern Beirut. The original program is assisting an estimated 2,500 vulnerable families including families of victims, people with disabilities, families caring for orphans and elderly people living alone. IOCC is also repairing 23 schools and installing water systems in 30 villages.

The new OFDA extension grant will allow IOCC to do even more: 2,400 families (about 10,750 individuals) will receive supplies to replant farms and rebuild farm-related small business; 3,000 highly vulnerable families will receive heating fuel to help endure the harsh winter; approximately 90,000 women and children who have suffered from war-related trauma will receive psycho-social support; and about 100,000 individuals will have safe drinking water.

IOCC has had an established infrastructure in southern Lebanon since 2001 through a USDA-funded nutrition and feeding program. The area had been selected by IOCC because it had been the most out of reach of the central Lebanese government due to Israel’s 20-year occupation. “Back in 2001, there were only three NGOs working in southern Lebanon and IOCC was one of them,” says IOCC Regional Director George Antoun. “We know the people. We know the area. We know the best way of doing relief.”

IOCC’s emergency efforts in Lebanon began as soon as the crisis broke out in July. Since then, IOCC has delivered $100,000 in medicine and medical supplies to St. George Orthodox Hospital in Beirut and five other medical centers in the South. IOCC also distributed food and hygiene parcels to over 5,000 displaced persons taking shelter in the Matn, Alay and Chouf areas, as well as to families who returned to the village of Marjeyoun shortly after the August 14 ceasefire.

IOCC was founded in 1992 as the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA). Since then, it has implemented over $226 million in relief and development programs in 30 countries around the world. IOCC is a member of Action By Churches Together (ACT) International.

To help in providing emergency relief, call IOCC’s donation hotline toll-free at 1-877-803-4622, make a gift on-line by clicking here, or mail a check or money order payable to “IOCC.” Donors can write “Lebanon Crisis 2006,” in the memo line. Mail to: IOCC, P.O. Box 17398, Baltimore, Md. 21297-0429.