NGO Spotlight: Helping Syrians Escape the War with Mercy Corps

The news of the horrifying terrorist attacks that have occurred over the past few weeks paints a grim picture of humanity. Nonprofits that are working on the ground to help victims of terrorism and violence are fighting a daunting battle to change that picture.

 

Mercy Corps was started in 1979 as a way to help refugees escaping the Cambodian Genocide. Since their founding, they have broadened their focus from immediate humanitarian relief to long-term development projects. The Syrian refugee crisis presents a new and difficult set of humanitarian challenges that groups like Mercy Corps are tackling one small step at a time.

 

Their projects in Syria cover the wide range of refugee needs: from water infrastructure, to job training, to psychological support. A major concern for Mercy Corps is keeping Syrian children from falling behind; school enrollment rates for Syrian youth hit a 15 year low in 2015. Education is not the only problem Syrian children are facing. A survey taken by Mercy Corps found that more than half of Syrian child refugees had witnessed someone being attacked. Of these children, about half had symptoms of PTSD.

 

Mercy Corps has several approaches to helping traumatized refugee children. First, they are building play centers in refugee camps and organizing activities that encourage healthy emotional expression. Volunteers in these camps are also providing expert training to local families on how to deal with symptoms of PTSD.

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Girls play in the makeshift gym at their refugee camp. Photo credit to Mercy Corps Staff.

Mercy Corps is the largest provider of aid working in Syria and has been for the four years of conflict despite resistance from the Syrian government. The crisis is nowhere near finished; last year 6.8 million Syrians were in need of aid, today that number is creeping towards 10 million.

 

If you want to learn more about Mercy Corp’s work in refugee camps, you can check out their page on the Universalgiving site.

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