Humanitarian Crisis in the Mid-East; Be a Peacebuilder

July 21, 2006

Originally published in URI North America: Briefings.

Members of URI Cooperation Circles around the world have been engaging in a dialogue that has been both tense and constructive with regard to how to respond to the current war and humanitarian crisis in the Middle East. All perspectives are represented — some sympathize more strongly with the Palestinian and/or Lebanese suffering, some with the Israeli's living with the daily threat of terrorists' suicide bombs and rockets. The one thing that seems to be clearly uniting us is the need to recognize the humanitarian crisis on the ground — and more importantly react to it. We must be peacebuilders on the ground, helping those directly in need.

There are now hundreds of thousands of internally-displaced persons (IDPs, or refugees) in Lebanon. Innocent civilians in Gaza are locked into their small strip of land with a shattered infrastructure and little in the way of supplies. While foreign nationals stream out of Lebanon, the citizens are left with bombed out roads and bridges, with their international airport destroyed.

More than a dozen URI Cooperation Circles are already working in Israel, the occupied-territories, and Jordan — working to forge a shared vision of peace amongst the diverse factions. But what can peace lovers in the U.S. and other countries do? Perhaps the most immediate way they — you — can be of help is by donating to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who is already working with their Lebanese counterparts to bring relief supplies into Beirut. The ICRC has also been active in Gaza and the West Bank for several decades, along with their counterparts in the Red Crescent. In Gaza, their recent activities have included fuel distribution and coordinating ambulances and nurses.

Another well-reputed international aid organization working in the region is Oxfam. In a letter to Anne Roth of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costra County, an Oxfam representative writes:

"In Gaza, Oxfam and our local partner organizations are providing food,hygiene supplies, and other relief materials, as well as funding for twoemergency mobile medical teams. We are helping replace water and sewageequipment damaged by the conflict, and in order to keep essential water andsewage facilities running, we are also supplying diesel generators forelectricity. … You can findinformation about our Middle East Crisis Fund at"

Member of the URI believe the long-term goal of peace in the mideast is attainable, but not without creating deep connections between people, not without building bonds of unity between Muslim, Jew, and Christian. Interested in supporting this movement? Then be a peacebuilder by joining a URI Cooperation Circle or donating to the URI.