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Lack of funds hurts Syrian refugee response

By July 11, 2012

Syria (MNN) — Lebanon's Higher Relief Committee has run out
of money and can't help Syrian refugees anymore.

This week, the United Nations humanitarian agencies asked
for  $193 million to help an anticipated
185,000 Syrian refugees until the end of the year. The Chief Executive
Officer for Baptist Global Response, Jeff Palmer, notes, "You're now 
looking at probably about 100,000 refugees coming out of Syria.
They're going to Turkey, about 35,000; about 30,000 over toward
Lebanon, [and] about 30,000 down to Jordan."  However, despite the fact that the numbers grow
daily, it's not inclusive. Palmer
explains, "Those are refugees. That doesn't count what's going on inside
the country."

People are fleeing Syria's violence, seeking safety in camps
bordering Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. 
The numbers spiked from 40,000 three months ago to 96,000 now.

As a consequence, the
$84 million appeal the U.N. launched in March isn't enough to meet the growing
needs. Palmer says, "This has been
going on now for what, over a year? Part of it is just the wear and tear on the
ability of governments and people to be able to respond."

Without funds, there's no
aid. Asked whether their response teams
can handle what could be a sudden influx of people, Palmer made a unique distinction
about the people they're helping. "These official 'refugee numbers' don't
really tell the whole story of how many people are coming out, because many folks
coming out are not registered, so they're not really 'official' refugees. They're kind of 'invisible' folks. There's just a lot of need."

It means BGR teams are not in the
main venues where the bigger aid groups are assisting. In fact, he says, "Most of the folks that
we would be responding to are not even making it to these official lists."

Their teams are in areas where few
others are responding. "We're in
two of the border countries that are responding with local partners, meaning believers,
in the area." BGR responded in
these areas (unnamed for security reasons) with $300,000 worth of projects.
There are a couple of ongoing projects, too.

However, Palmer says, just because
they're working off the beaten path with private donors does not mean they are
flush with cash. They have to keep the
story in front of people in order to keep the funds flowing. The Syrian crisis has been ongoing for over a
year and doesn't show signs of letting up. 

Call it "Compassion Fatigue" or
'over-exposure.' Whatever the case, Palmer says they can't just let the story
fade because lives are at stake. For
believers living in the thick of the crisis, "Many of the believers in the
area [and] many of our partners on the ground are opening up their homes, their
churches, their community centers, to take these folks in because they're
extended family [living] in another country."

BGR comes alongside these churches
and other ministries so they can do what the other Non-Government Organizations
cannot. "We're actually helping them to get the materials like food,
water, shelter, some kitchen kits, and some small things to help them set up a small
house."

Palmer adds that through their
partners' response, they've seen people open up. "When you care for a
family that walked out of their home country with nothing but what they've got
on their backs, what they can carry, and their children, and you take care of
their children, what a wonderful way to make the Gospel visible. [It opens] up a window of opportunity to share verbally, truth, with those who are so
desperate."

With the situation continuously changing, BGR is still
going to need a lot of help with funds and prayer support. We've got links at our Featured Links
section.

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