Even though Development and Peace recognizes that the complex crises, which have resulted in these huge displacements of people, both within and from Iraq and the Darfur region to the surrounding countries and areas, are priority issues for its Emergency team for both 2007 and beyond, it knows additional efforts are still required. For although Iraq is constantly in the news, it appears the focus is more on the number of dead than on the huge numbers of people on the move, trying to flee the violence. The situation in Darfur is covered less by the media, but the enormity of the human rights violations and of the plight of those in the camps is extremely grave, with people forced to endure incredible hardships in an attempt to survive.
From 2003 until now, Development and Peace has contributed over $1 million to help alleviate suffering in the Sudan, and in excess of $1.5 million to help the Iraqi people.
More than 800,000 Iraqis have been displaced since February 2006 when sectarian violence escalated. In addition, two million Iraqis are taking refuge in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt, where the conditions are quite simply horrendous and the ability of the local inhabitants and the authorities to cope with the huge influx are not very great.
Since 2003, in the Darfur region of Western Sudan, over two million inhabitants struggle for survival and against being forgotten. Victims of a civil war between rebel groups and the central government in Khartoum, a large part of the population, prey to innumerable extortions and indignities, are in internal displaced persons (IDP) camps. Insecurity reigns supreme and the conditions of life are inhuman. Countless more (+250,000 est.) have sought refuge in neighbouring Chad, or are making the dangerous two-thousand mile trek across the desert to Uganda, with the hope of escaping the misery. This is putting a severe strain on the whole region.
Along with its international and local partners, Development and Peace is doing its best to get these humanitarian crises out of oblivion, and into the global consciousness. In addition, Development and Peace is also determined to help victims of these two multi-tiered examples of extreme civil unrest, in spite of the climate of violence. It is associated with some impressive ecumenical coalitions trying to meet the basic needs of these displaced people.
In Iraq, we have recently approved projects to support internally displaced persons as well as refugees:
- Supporting Caritas Iraq for a total of $50,000 to help bring aid to the internally displaced people of Iraq. Caritas Iraq is working with the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) in the implementation of this project. A Caritas Iraq delegation visited displaced families to assess the basic family needs as well as psychological needs. Based on these assessments, the current project consists of 1) the distribution of food, medication and other primary needs, such as water tanks, latrines, mattresses and blankets; 2) housing support for the most needy families; 3) educational activities for the children; and 4) awareness and craftwork training for the youth.
- Supporting Caritas Syria for a total of $50,000 for Iraqi refugees. Caritas Syria works closely with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Catholic Migrations Committee (ICMC), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the Apostolic Nunciate (AP) to distribute primary need care (milk for children, food and medicine) to Iraqi refugees. This project, however, only meets the needs of approximately 20% of Iraqi displaced persons located in the Damascus area.
In Darfur, we have recently approved two projects with a contribution of $150,000 for each one:
- One project - the Darfur Emergency Relief Operation (DERO) is spearheaded by the Caritas network with CAFOD (Caritas UK) as the lead agency working with the ACT (Action of Churches Together) network. DERO is a global program covering basic humanitarian needs within the IDP camps in Darfur, with specific objectives in the areas of emergency response and preparedness, psycho-social support, IDP protection, health and sanitation, nutrition, peacebuilding, agriculture and school support.
- The other project is implemented by the Swiss organization - Terre des hommes (TDH) that works mainly with children. DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE's contribution will kick-start the project by providing much needed psycho-social support to vulnerable children as well as assist in the coordination of basic services in 3 IDP camps.
Your help is needed!
Development and Peace asks you to stand in solidarity with these vulnerable people and is appealing to the Canadian public to support its partners' efforts towards the displaced persons and refugees from these regions. The needs are immense and these humanitarian crises will not be settled in the next few months. Contributions to Development and Peace can be made by telephone (1-888-664-3387), or via the Internet. Please designate your donations to: Emergency: Aid to Displaced Persons. Donations can also be made by cheque (marked "Emergency: Aid to Displaced Persons") at the following address:
DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE
1425, René-Lévesque Blvd. West, 3rd floor
Montreal (Québec) H3G 1T7
English Media Contact: Wanda Potrykus 514-257-8710, ext. 365 firstname.lastname@example.org