AKRON, Pa. – Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) continues to address needs of refugees fleeing from increasing violence in Syria.
Caritas Jordan, a church-based MCC partner, is distributing comforters, relief kits, school kits and hygiene kits, depending on family size and availability of materials, in five governorates, similar to provinces or states. In the Mafraq governorate, milk powder and diapers also are distributed.
Those fleeing became refugees because of ongoing fighting between Syrian government and opposition forces. From March 2011 through July 25, the United Nations (U.N.) registered 36,323 Syrian refugees in Jordan.
However, the Jordanian government and the U.N. estimate that the actual number of Syrians who have come to Jordan is closer to 140,000, according to Daryl Byler, MCC representative with his spouse Cindy in the region. Many families fear reprisal when they return to Syria and have chosen not to register with official refugee agencies. Others have their own means of survival and do not need the services provided to registered refugees.
When Nada Zabaneh, MCC Jordan program coordinator, visited a distribution of materials in Mafraq in June she heard many stories of people leaving everything behind when they fled. One 20-year-old woman (name withheld by request) from Homs, Syria, was pregnant when she and her husband, mother and siblings came to Jordan in November 2011. In February, she gave birth to a boy.
“When I delivered the baby I had to show my marriage certificate to register the child officially and to give proof of the father’s identity,” she told Zabaneh. “My marriage certificate was also left behind, so my husband and I had to remarry again to get a certificate.”
Byler said that the rate of Syrians crossing the border is expected to increase as violence has escalated. He noted that Jordan’s government has plans for 27 refugee camps for Syrian refugees who are scattering across the country. The flow of refugees also continues into Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. Additionally, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, about 1 million Syrians are displaced from their homes within their country.
MCC’s support of Syrian refugees in Jordan is part of an appeal MCC launched in early March for $500,000 and for relief kit donations. As violence increased in Syria, where MCC has worked since 1991, MCC partners called on MCC to support displaced people within Syria, work pre-emptively at conflict resolution in Lebanon and help refugees in Jordan.
For more information about MCC’s response to the Middle East crisis or to donate funds, visit mcc.org/middleeastcrisis. To donate relief kits or other kits, go to mcc.org/kits for a list of supplies and information about where they can be delivered.
Ed Nyce is media and education coordinator for Mennonite Central Committee U.S.