INTERNATIONAL ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHARITIES (IOCC)
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For immediate release
March 25, 2003
IOCC COORDINATES AID WITH CHURCH PARTNERS IN IRAQ, JORDAN
Amman, Jordan (IOCC) - With a humanitarian crisis looming in Baghdad
and elsewhere in Iraq, International Orthodox Christian Charities
(IOCC) is working with its church partners to arrange distributions
of emergency food and medicines in Iraq in the coming days and weeks.
IOCC Chief Operating Officer David Holdridge is in Amman, Jordan,
coordinating IOCC's response with the Middle East Council of Churches
(MECC)and its member jurisdictions. The MECC has 44 distribution
centers set up in churches and mosques in and around Baghdad.
Holdridge said humanitarian needs already are emerging in northern
Iraq, where 300,000 to 400,000 people have been displaced, and in
Baghdad, where people are suffering from a lack of basic medical care.
"You have an impending crisis," he said. "You have a population -
children, the elderly, the frail - that is becoming traumatized.
There's no doubt about that. You can imagine what that bombing does
night after night to people."
Especially vulnerable are people with respiratory ailments because of
the smoke from oil fires and fires caused by the bombardment,
"You're going to see a dramatic increase in healthcare problems," he
Holdridge said IOCC, consistent with its practice in other countries,
will work to build the capacity of local Orthodox churches in and
around Baghdad to provide assistance to their surrounding communities.
"Any sort of distribution program with the (Orthodox) Church will
need a strong capacity-building component built into it," he
said. "You find the Orthodox community all over Iraq, but it's a
Among the estimated 125,000 Orthodox Christians in Iraq are the
parishioners of an Antiochian Orthodox congregation in Baghdad. The
Syriac Orthodox Church has 36 congregations in Iraq with an estimated
45,000 members, and the Armenian Apostolic Church has 12
congregations with an estimated 20,000 parishioners, according to the
World Christian Encyclopedia.
Christians in Iraq make up about 3 percent of the population in this
predominantly Muslim country. Most Christians in Iraq belong to the
Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church.
IOCC will seek to train and deploy workers from Iraqi parish
communities to assist vulnerable Iraqis of all religious and ethnic
backgrounds, Holdridge said.
In response to the Iraq crisis, IOCC, the official humanitarian aid
agency of Orthodox Christians, is appealing for $1 million to provide
emergency relief, live-saving medicines and medical supplies to
suffering people in the Middle East.
IOCC has worked in the Middle East since 1997 and currently has
programs in the Holy Land and Lebanon. Since 1992, IOCC has
distributed more than $160 million in relief and development
assistance in 21 countries.
To help in providing relief, call IOCC's donation hotline toll-free at
1-877-803-4622, make a gift on-line at www.iocc.org/iraq, or mail a
check or money order to IOCC, "Middle East Crisis," P.O. Box 630225,
Baltimore, Md. 21263-0225.
For media inquiries, please contact IOCC Communications Associate
at 1-877-803-4622 or shuba@i...