Displaying items by tag: Syria
After a decade of civil war, Syria has at last begun to reconnect with its neighbouring countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, and the UAE. President Assad’s grip on the country is tenuous as areas near the Turkish and Iraqi borders are controlled by rebel groups. Fighting has left Syria in economic ruins; families which used to have more than enough income to provide for themselves are now in poverty because of hyperinflation. A man with cancer did not continue with expensive treatment; it was better that one dies rather than all of them dying. Families without enough food for all their children give lunch to some children lunch and dinner to the others. But God is working. The story of Jesus is reaching new populations; there is a budding movement of the Holy Spirit and churches are forming among the Druze in the south and the Kurds in the north.
Thirteen aid groups have warned, ‘Over 12 million people in Syria and Iraq are losing access to water, food and electricity and urgent action is needed to combat a severe water crisis.’ Rising temperatures, reduced rainfall and drought deprive people of drinking and agricultural water and are in turn disrupting electricity as dams run out of water. This impacts the operations of essential infrastructure including health facilities. Five million people in Syria directly depend on the river. In Iraq, the loss of access to water from the river, and drought, threaten seven million people. 400 square kilometres of agricultural land risk total drought. Two Syrian dams serving electricity to three million face imminent closure. Communities including displaced people in camps have witnessed a rise in outbreaks of waterborne diseases since the water shortage. Swathes of Iraqi farmland, fisheries, power production and drinking water sources are depleted of water. Wheat production is depleted by 70%.
Doctors say Covid-19 is now rampant in the refugee camps of Idlib, north-west Syria. The number of positive coronavirus cases rose tenfold in this region last month. Aid agencies say that due to a lack of testing, the real figure is expected to be much higher. In March the UN, aid workers, and doctors began to give stark warnings that camps for the displaced in this area of Syria could be devastated by a coronavirus outbreak. At that time they said 100,000 might die unless medical supplies arrived urgently. See Pray for nations to be generous in their giving, and for the aid agencies to be better funded as they work to distribute much-needed equipment, testing resources and medical advice to save lives. See
Centres of Hope are Christian schools open to anybody regardless of faith background. They want to show Jesus’s love to the community, and they don’t attach conditions to entry. But they do want to make sure that they show Jesus as the real source of hope. Young children and teenagers do separate activities. The young ones dance and sing songs about Jesus and watch biblical stories and funny sketches by staff. The teenagers watch a Christian movie and then discuss it. But like everywhere, Syria has taken measures to prevent coronavirus spreading. Many centres temporarily closed, and staff refocused efforts towards humanitarian and emergency aid. Now the centres are re-opening, and they are praying that they will reach even larger numbers of children to show them the love of God and to tell them the good news of salvation.
The continuing trend of peace initiatives between Israel and its Arab neighbours are creating an upheaval of the Middle Eastern order. Please continue to pray for the people of Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and the Palestinian territories as their leaders seek a stable footing in this season of realignment. Pray for a just and swift end to the Syrian civil war through the peace process that includes the Syrian regime, rebel and Kurdish factions. Pray that the Lord will continue to expose the duplicity and danger of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and that the Lebanese people will continue to turn against terrorist groups and unite together in the formation of a new government. We pray for a shield of divine protection around the state of Israel, that the schemes of her enemies will be thwarted.
Yemen, currently home to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, has millions of people extremely vulnerable to coronavirus. Even before the pandemic, 80% of Yemen’s population needed aid. The spread of coronavirus is difficult to track with very little testing. Sometimes the only way to assess the severity of an outbreak is by how busy the gravediggers are. In parts of Yemen gravediggers are overwhelmed. Coronavirus has caused a reduction in funding for aid programmes. The UN has been forced to close nutrition, hygiene and sanitation programmes (see). Doctors in Syria are preparing for ‘an explosion’ of coronavirus in large overcrowded settlements. Only 64% of hospitals are functioning due to shortages of trained staff. 70% of health workers have fled Syria. Awareness of coronavirus danger is extremely low in some areas, so food and medicine are prioritised for people in poverty, not soap and hygiene. See
On 11 July the UN approved a new round of cross-border aid to Syria through the Turkish border into militant-controlled Idlib province - providing one year of foreign aid to the northwest region of Syria and critical supplies to over one million Syrians. Millions more civilians within opposition-controlled areas rely heavily on such aid to survive. Throughout the war Syrian Christians have played a vital role within their communities, providing a lifeline to those in need. Many of them are within government-controlled areas, which are more heavily impacted by sanctions. If foreign aid to these areas was abolished, it would limit the resources used by Christians to provide hope to their communities. Pray for the international Christian community to seek new ways to bring about resolution and peace in this war-weary nation.
Oil pollution accumulates in the air, in the soil, and in people’s bodies. When it reaches a certain level, it causes illness or death. The Kurds of northeast Syria were valiant against IS, but today they face a potentially even more deadly scourge, putting the lives of four million local residents at risk. Syria’s contested crude oil is leaking from dilapidated pipelines and contaminating rivers and streams. When the rivers flood, as they did in April, they spread their poison over agricultural crops, just as thousands of rudimentary refineries belch their own toxic fumes into the air. Sporadic protests have resulted in makeshift refineries being shut down, only for them to pop up elsewhere. Locals in affected areas say that many dangerous illnesses caused by the pollution are multiplying. Residents requested anonymity, fearing retribution from authorities - a telling sign of how caustic the danger is.
The UN chief called on the world to step up “financial, humanitarian and political commitments”, to help end nearly a decade of brutal conflict and suffering across Syria, in a video message delivered to the fourth Brussels Donor Conference on Tuesday.
“After nearly a decade of war and economic hardship, the scale of suffering remains shocking”, said Secretary-General António Guterres.
The conference received pledges of $5.5 billion in funding, to support humanitarian, resilience and development activities in 2020, and $2.2 billion for crisis response in 2021 and beyond. In addition, multilateral development banks and bilateral donors pledged up to $6.7 billion in loans.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed; half the pre-war population, or over 12 million Syrians, are displaced, including 5.6 million who fled the country; millions are going hungry or are malnourished; and 90 per cent of the population lives in poverty.
And all of this is being further compounded by the coronavirus.
UN in solidarity
Currently over 11 million Syrians need emergency assistance just to survive, many of whom rely solely on the UN and its humanitarian partners. “We provide life-saving food, healthcare, sanitation facilities, education and protection services, to millions of Syrians every month”, the UN chief said. “We help to address their trauma and provide legal advice so they can start to rebuild their lives” – all of which depends on “generous” donor support.
Since only “a political solution can end the suffering in Syria”, he urged “all those with influence” to help Syrians find common ground.
Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock noted that the Syrian crisis is “approaching the length of the combination” of the two World Wars, as it wreaks havoc and acute economic strain across the region.
He painted a gloomy picture of the Syrian economy in “a dramatic downturn” with prices of essential food, medicines and fuel “soaring” as the Syrian pound “fell to a record low against the US dollar this month”.
The UN official cited estimates from the World Food Programme (WFP) in revealing that an “unprecedented level” of 9.3 million people there are food insecure and almost half a million children suffer from stunting, a consequence of malnutrition.
“And now we have COVOID-19, which has the potential to cause much more suffering and loss, with preparations to tackle it inside Syria wholly inadequate in the light of the degrading of the health system through the years of crisis”, added the humanitarian coordinator.
Mr. Lowcock elaborated on how the UN was supporting the situation on the ground, including by providing food assistance to more than 3.2 million people; nutrition support for half a million children; critical water and sanitation for 1.3 million people; and four million medical procedures.
“The humanitarian assistance we provide across Syria and in the region depends on the generous support of the States and constituencies represented here”, he flagged.
Noting that “one of the most tragic consequences of the horror story of the last decade has been the robbing of millions of children of their right to a decent education”, he foresaw major long-term consequences, “for more than fifty years”.
“One of the major challenges is funding”, Mr. Lowcock said and asked donors to prioritize pledges to the education of these children, saying it is “in your own interests, but most importantly in theirs”.
‘Unlocking’ a political process
Syrian Special Envoy Geir O. Pedersen reiterated his call for “a nationwide ceasefire”, along with the need to be vigilant about COVID-19, the importance of resolution 2254, which calls for a ceasefire and political settlement, and the challenges posed by groups listed as terrorists by the Security Council.
Moreover, he again appealed for the Syrian Government and other parties to “carry out large-scale, unilateral releases of detainees and abductees, and meaningful actions on the missing persons”. Mr. Pedersen expressed his hope that the Syrian-led, Syrian-owned Constitutional Committee facilitated by the UN in Geneva “will be able to meet on a regular basis throughout the rest of the year”.
Acknowledging that a constitutional discussion would not address the full range of dire realities Syrians grapple with, he maintained that the Committee’s work can be “a door-opener to unlock a broader political process”
Pray: For a negotiated ceasefire and a political settlement.
Pray: With thanks for the pledges of loans and donations to support the humanitarian aid, education and covid-19 relief efforts. May further funds be released to scale up all of these initiatives.
Pray: for the organisations delivering the aid and medical assistance, for protection, good health and free access to those who need their help.
Pray: For the many people who have been displaced by this war, that they will find safe refuge amidst the challenges and hardships.
Pray: for the UN and countries with influence, that they will bring about lasting peace to Syria and the region.
From Morocco to Iraq there are various forms of lockdowns, strains on hospitals, food shortages, even martial law. These strains put more pressure on already-stressed communities. The potential spread of the disease among refugees and displaced populations could be catastrophic. Many are persecuted believers with no financial safety net and poor medical infrastructures. For war-torn Syria, the pandemic has taken the situation from bad to worse. ‘We are free from the armed militia in Aleppo, but prices here are soaring’, said Kareem, ‘We have all signed up to receive bread from the government, and the needs are overwhelming.’ In Turkey, many are Iranian converts from Islam who fled Iran after being imprisoned or tortured for their faith. Turkish locals now blame them for the spread of coronavirus. The government has cut off all assistance, and many Christians have lost their employment. The Bible advises to go to the Lord with trials and problems; this virus is a serious problem.