MCC low on emergency response dollars
MCC Photo by Ryan Rodrick Beiler

Jasem Mohammed carries a food package distributed by MCC partner Zakho Small Villages Project at the Garmawa displaced persons camp in Iraqi Kurdistan. Like most people living in the camp, Mohammed fled the city of Mosul after its takeover by the group calling itself the Islamic State.

WINNIPEG, Man. — It’s not just you. The news has been particularly bad this year. The group calling itself the Islamic State is gaining ground, while videos of violence circulate online. In the same region  more than 10 million people already needed assistance because of the Syrian conflict. In Gaza more than 108,000 people don’t have permanent homes after over two months of bombing. And more than 1.4 million people are displaced in South Sudan, with hundreds of thousands at risk of extreme hunger.

The situations are complicated. There isn’t one person to blame. There are no simple solutions. The amount of need can feel overwhelming.

In all these places, and many others, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is responding. But the unusually high number of emergencies puts a strain on resources, says Bruce Guenther, MCC’s director of disaster response.

“We’ve allocated over double our emergency resources to date than we had in the previous year,” he says. “We are maxed out on our account at the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, and we are out of relief and hygiene kits. We’re out of everything.” That also includes an MCC staple: handmade quilts.

In some cases a lack of funds has meant turning down relief projects.

Though the situation feels overwhelming, you can help.

Your donation to the MCC relief fund helps us respond right away when a disaster hits. “Sometimes it’s really a question of life and death, there’s no other way to put it,” says Amela Puljek-Shank, MCC’s area director for Europe and the Middle East, a region in particularly high turmoil this year.

For example, while air strikes fell on Gaza this summer MCC, through our partners on the ground, was one of few agencies providing immediate relief, using money on hand to buy local supplies. “We were able to help with blankets, we were able to help with food, which people needed right at that moment,” Puljek-Shank says.

Having an emergency fund also allows MCC to respond before a situation becomes a large-scale disaster. For example, in Central America crop failure is putting people at risk of hunger. But we are providing food baskets and canned meat to help prevent extreme hunger.  “The time for the response is now, but we are only going to see the effects of not responding to that months down the road,” says Guenther.

Your donation to MCC’s emergency fund helps us both prevent crises from escalating and respond quickly when a disaster hits. “We are really thankful for generous giving that we have had for Syria and also for responses in Gaza and Iraq,” says Guenther, “we would just encourage people to think about the many, many people that are affected by conflict and other crises that they are not always aware of and to give generously, because we are there and we are responding.”

Please donate to MCC’s emergency relief fund that helps us meet these urgent needs. Donate online or call your local MCC office toll-free at 1-888-622-6337.

Or you can make a relief or hygiene kit.

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