It’s worth remembering that while we enjoy the holidays here at home, volunteers with Portland-based Mercy Corps are working in a war-zone right now.
That’s not to mention our many warfighters elsewhere, of course.
But here’s an urgent update we received from Mercy Corps earlier today;
“An escalation in violence in Southern Idlib has forced more than 235,000 Syrians to flee, according to the United Nations. The majority of families are heading north towards the Turkish border, where there are camps often with no shelter, food or clean water.
“Thunderous bombs and shelling keep getting closer to major civilian areas,” says Wolfgang Gressmann, Syria Country Director, Mercy Corps. “For thousands of innocent civilians the only choice is to flee, and now even their escape is a violent and frightening affair.”
Aid workers are now rapidly scaling up operations to respond to the massive influx of newly displaced people. In just the past three days, Mercy Corps has handed out new arrival kits (containing essentials for cooking and hygiene) to more than 3,000 people and reached an additional 2,500 with fresh water.
“The roads are crammed with vehicles fleeing Maa’arat al-nu’ man as the front lines continue to shift. Between the collapse of the Syria pound and a fuel shortage, many can barely afford to fuel their vehicles,” says Gressmann. “The only safe place for many are camps or any shelter that can be found. Now that winter has set in, some of these camps have become flooded, crowded and cold. Many of the tents have been destroyed by winds and rain from winter storms, making the overcrowding even worse.”
It doesn’t sound good, but Mercy Corps says it will continue working hard to help those fleeing the conflict.
More than 200 Mercy Corps team members are deployed in Syria right now, helping provide household essentials, building, and repairs, as well as winter assistance.