The Catholic Near East Welfare Association announced today the disbursement of an additional $382,011 in emergency funds to its client agencies “to alleviate the suffering of desperate Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan, Jordan and Lebanon.” In addition, it announced that funding partners in Germany have awarded CNEWA an initial grant of $124,522 to assist its work with displaced families in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Since January, CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar, noted the agency has provided nearly $600,000 to assist more than 8,000 displaced Syrian families seeking refuge in Armenia and Lebanon, as well as those hiding in so-called safe zones within Syria.
"The situation for Iraq’s displaced families remains chaotic and fluid,” said CNEWA’s Michel Constantin, who, with colleague Ra’ed Bahou, has just returned from Iraqi Kurdistan. “Yet the coordination among our partners on the ground, led by the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, is excellent,” added Mr. Constantin, who heads CNEWA’s emergency response team from Beirut.
“Many of the families we spoke to said they have very little rights and no access to public services within Kurdistan,” said Mr. Constantin, noting that as Arab speakers, they “feel they would have more rights and will be easier for them to cope in a strange country like in Jordan or Lebanon, rather than in Kurdistan.”
Returning to their villages seems more and more remote, he added. “Many families and religious sisters informed us that the experience of liberating Tel Eskof village following the air raids of the coalition against ISIS was a real disappointment. A few families decided to return back to that village to find their homes were seriously destroyed by the raids and those houses that escaped destruction were mined by the fanatic militants before their withdrawal.
“It is noteworthy to mention that a week ago a 16-year-old boy died when he tried to enter his house mined in Tel Eskof. This situation has made the return to their homes almost impossible.”
Msgr. Kozar detailed some of the ways the emergency funds would be put to use in the troubled region:
• $178,022 to the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena to provide 1,922 children in 13 displacement centers in Iraqi Kurdistan with milk and diapers for three months as well as winter clothes and shoes
• $95,000 to the Italian Hospital in Amman and the Mother of Mercy clinic in Zerqa to help cover medical costs due to the surge of Iraqi and Syrian refugees
• $62,261 for medicines and stipends for volunteer doctors and other health care providers, also displaced from their homes, serving the sick in Erbil
• $36,150 to help the Good Shepherd Sisters feed and clothe 155 refugee children in Lebanon for a three-month period
• $21,100 to help six parishes in Jordan accommodate Iraqi refugees over a three-month period, securing supplies such as refrigerators, stoves, washing machines, water tanks, solar water heaters and space heaters
• $20,000 to enable these six parishes in Jordan defray added electricity and fuel expenses through the end of the year
• $25,000 to provide these Iraqi refugee families with funds to secure clothes, blankets, mattresses and bedding as well as personal items
• $31,500 to allow 150 refugee families in Jordan to purchase food stuffs through the end of 2014