IOCC’s Network Proves Effective for Lebanon Crisis

Beirut Staff Convert Development Program Resources into Emergency Aid for Hundreds of Displaced Families

Baltimore, MD (August 4, 2006) — Day 23 of the invasion of Lebanon finds one-fourth of the country’s population displaced from their homes of which an estimated 128,000 have taken shelter in public schools and institutions. IOCC is continuing its relief efforts to displaced families, delivering food and hygiene parcels to 892 families in the Maten and Alley areas, and reaching the more dangerous regions of the Chouf during the 48-hour lull in fighting.

Many of these displaced families are staying in the public schools where IOCC has been repairing infrastructure and conducting an education/feeding program since 2001. On average there are 30-40 families per school, with each family staying in a classroom. Staff is coordinating efforts with the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, the Middle East Council of Churches, and with the Orthodox Church in each village or area that IOCC distribution of supplies is taking place.

“IOCC may not be one of the larger aid organizations on the ground in Lebanon,” says Interim Director of Operations Matthew Parry, “but it is certainly one of the best positioned.” Literally overnight, Beirut staff converted the IOCC development program into an emergency relief effort using trucks that normally distributed public school meals to reach distressed families. Staff was also able to use their network of food suppliers to procure food and hygiene items, a task that was very difficult in view of the security situation.

IOCC began its relief efforts in the Maten and Alley areas of Mount Lebanon, providing one food and one hygiene parcel per family. Church World Service has also pledged 5,000 hygiene kits, 500 collapsible water containers and hundreds of wool blankets. Each parcel contains supplies that last for one month. Food parcels contain milk powder, vegetable oil, canned fish, hummus, beans, pasta, rice, corn, jam, tea and sugar. Hygiene parcels contain toothbrushes, tooth paste, soap, tissue paper, toilet paper, shampoo, antiseptic cleaner, laundry soap and sanitary pads.

“I think IOCC is distinctive in its approach because in addition to providing basic food and hygiene supplies, we are also providing educational materials about ways to relieve stress and the importance of food and personal hygiene,” says IOCC Beirut Program Coordinator Linda Shaker Berbari. “This will help families cope better with their environment and prevent problems that might arise due to poor hygienic practices.”

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 by clicking here, or mail a check or money order payable to “IOCC” and write “Lebanon Crisis 2006” in the memo line to: IOCC, P.O. Box 17398, Baltimore, Md. 21297-0429.