Foodgrains Bank Partner Recognized for Life-Saving Work in Syria

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Jesuit Refugee Services Syria receives international award for “outstanding dedication in providing emergency relief to Syrians.”

Providing emergency food for people affected by the fighting inside Syria is dangerous work. Canadian Foodgrains Bank and its members would not be able to help Syrians affected by the conflict without the help of partners like Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) Syria, whose staff distribute aid in the midst of the fighting.

For its dedication and service to people caught in the war in that country, JRS Syria has been awarded the 2014 Pax Christi International Peace Award.

Established in 1988, the Award honours  individuals and organisations who make a stand for peace, justice and non-violence around the world. It is given by Pax Christi International, a Catholic peace movement founded in 1945. 

The 2014 Peace Award was given to JRS Syria for its “outstanding dedication in providing emergency relief to Syrians” since the war began in 2011.

 “Recognizing the courage it takes for people on the ground in Syria to undertake such risks in order to help their neighbour isn’t something we should take lightly,” says Joan Barkman, Foodgrains Bank program officer for the region.

“There are bombs falling all around, and they are going and finding families that need assistance.”
For Barkman, JRS Syria is an organization that is uniquely positioned to be in places many other organizations can’t.

“Their staff are local Syrian people from the areas they are helping,” says Barkman. “They know where vulnerable people might be hiding, and how to get to them. The help they are providing is critical, because a lot of the time other organizations just aren’t able to get in there.”

Providing help to needy people in a time of crisis is something that has united some of Syria’s religious and ethnic groups instead of driving them apart.

Although JRS is a Christian organization, Syrians of Kurdish and Islamic background have also joined in their relief efforts

 “We are doing something that can be revolutionary,” says Father Mourad Abou Seif of JRS, who accepted the Pax Christi award in Sarajevo earlier this year.

 “Religion is something that doesn’t have to split society, but can unify society when we work together for peace for everyone. We are building something new.”

Through its member Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, Canadian Foodgrains Bank is partnering with JRS Syria to provide emergency food for people in some of the most war-affected parts of that country.

In total, Foodgrains Bank members have programmed $11.2 million to help 155,750 people affected by the Syrian conflict. Foodgrains Bank members are working to deliver food assistance to people inside Syria, as well as Syrian refugees living in Lebanon and Jordan.

–Amanda Thorsteinsson, Communications Officer

For more information on the Foodgrains Bank response to the crisis in Syria or to donate, click here

Photo: Fr. Mourad Abou Seif, second from left, receiving the Pax Christi Award on behalf of JRS Syria.