Q: What positions have you held with GAiN since you started 20 years ago?
A: I’ve been with GAiN for just over 20 years. I started with GAiN as the Director of Operations. That was back in July of 2001. My role was not very different to what I was doing recently but the difference is GAiN was very small at that time, basically a start-up. With a change in leadership at GAiN in 2003, my title was changed to Chief Operations Officer to better reflect my role in relation to the new CEO and organizational structure of GAiN globally.

Q: What drew you to GAiN and what keeps you here? What motivates you to continue?
A: I loved the vision of GAiN, to be the hands and feet of Jesus and demonstrate the love of God in ‘word and deed’ to hurting and needy people. When I stepped into the role, I knew right away that God had prepared me for it. My relationship with Jesus Christ has shaped me into who I am today and all I do flows out of that relationship. My cultural background (having grown up as a third-culture kid) and life experiences have prepared me well to serve cross-culturally. I know first-hand what it means to be displaced and to be a refugee (having lived through an invasion). I’ve always had a heart of compassion to reach out to people, whether it’s in the context of home and hospitality or beyond. My experiences in the corporate world equipped me well to oversee and manage the operations of a business. GAiN seemed like a natural fit! I got to use my skills, live out my faith, serve God and people and daily see lives being touched through simple acts of compassion and the redeeming power of Jesus.

Q: How did growing up in Kuwait shape who you are today and give you the experiences that brought you to where you are now?
A: When you’re in it, you don’t think about it. You reflect back on your experiences and then you realize the handprint of God on your life. I grew up in a loving church-going family in Kuwait. Life was good but because we were from India (with a Western ‘Christian’ name), and Christians living in a Muslim country, I noticed that there were subtle racial prejudices and discrimination. My experience, growing up in a large expatriate society and church community, gave me a deep appreciation for people of other ethnicities, religions and cultures. After living in India for five years, through university and a successful business venture, I returned to Kuwait. I started a career in a multinational company and it was during this time that Kuwait was invaded by Iraq.

Moving to Canada was a journey of faith. My wife Madhvi and I sensed it was time to leave our comfort zone in Kuwait and move on to other things, not knowing what the future had in store, but knowing that He held our future in His hands. God does allow anything to go to waste. If you are willing to follow Him and be used by Him, He will use every experience and lesson to equip you for ‘your good and His glory’. Every experience that I’ve had in life has shaped me to be used by the Lord in ministry and have a deeper understanding and empathy for people living through crisis and calamity.

Q: How has this experience helped you relate to the people that we work with in the field?

A: Fast forward to November 2014 in the country of Jordan where GAiN was working with its local partner to support Syrian refugees who were escaping the violence from the Syrian civil war. In a small border town, at the local church, we had invited 100-150 families to receive a hot meal and care packages.

So we’re sitting at the front of the church and our partner leans over to me and says, “Aaron, you have to get up and talk to these people. If anyone can reach these people today, you can because you have lived what they are living today as a refugee. They need to hear your story about redemption and restoration.”

That was the first time in 24 years that I publicly shared my story of being a refugee. I shared my story, and tried to relate it to what they were going through and how I understood what they were going through. You could see the body language of some of the men, how it was changing. They were sitting up and leaning forward in their chairs to listen closely. I was, of course, speaking through a translator. I shared my journey of fear, despair and then hope and how today God restored me so many times over. That day, I believe God used my story to give a measure of hope to people who were desperate. Many men and women – mostly men – shook my hand, some of them hugged me and thanked me for the hope that I gave them that day.

Q: Can you share a lesson you’ve learned from your international humanitarian work?

A: If I could say one thing, I would say, don’t use the word ‘proud.’ We have stayed on the straight and narrow to help fulfill the mission we believe God has called Global Aid Network to, that we helped develop back in the early days. Because we stayed true to that calling, God has blessed our ministry and continues to bless it. We have stayed committed to ‘demonstrating God’s love in word and deed’. Today, we use new language like ‘revealing hope and restoring life’ in the context of Integral Mission but the mission has not changed. God’s Word is our guiding light and scriptures like Matt. 22:36-40, 25:31-45, 28:18-20, Isaiah 58, James 1:27, 2:14-26, Micah 6:8, 2 Cor. 5:11-21 and Col. 3:17 are our marching orders.

Q: What are you most proud of accomplishing with GAiN?

A: If I could say one thing, I would say, I would not want to use the word “proud,” but I believe in my heart that we have stayed true to the mission that God has called us to. We have stayed true and on the straight and narrow for the vision and mission God has given Global Aid Network, that we helped develop back in the early days. Because we stayed true to that calling, God has blessed our ministry and continues to bless it.

I am always blown away and amazed at the generosity of people. We are not a perfect organization, we have our challenges. I was talking to a potential donor yesterday and I said to him, you know there are many organizations out there that are probably doing much better work than us. But what you have to decide as a donor and investor is what are your values? If one of your key values at the end of the day is to make Christ known, then that is one of our distinctives. We don’t do just do word or deed, we do it together. And so, when you look for organizations that do that together, very quickly the playing field narrows down. Sometimes it’s very easy to just focus on the one, which is the deed part because it’s so much more tangible and easier to do. But I believe that GAiN has stayed true to what we believe has been the calling that God has given us as an organization and that is why He has continued to bless it. You know what, I feel proud about that. I really do.

Q: What can we expect for the future of GAiN?
A: The pandemic has affected us in many ways. During this season, in-person meetings and events have been very restricted, which has changed the ways we connect with ministry partners and donors. We know the importance of connecting with ministry partners and donors, so this is a top priority. Our desire is to continue to build strategic partnerships to have an even greater impact for the kingdom.

We are also focused on

  • implementing our Water for Life Initiative 2030 Vision and adding even more Community Ministry Teams to work alongside villages
  • expanding into new geographical locations so that we can reach the unreached and unengaged people groups
  • providing even more opportunities for women to live dignified and redemptive lives through income-generating activities through our Economic Empowerment strategy
  • growing our resources and systems for our Disaster Relief and Preparedness strategy

We want to move forward, staying committed to the vision of GAiN, to see ‘a world with flourishing communities, where people are physically, spiritually and emotionally thriving’ while keeping our eyes and ears open to where God will lead and direct us.

After the Beirut explosion on August 4th, our local partners in Lebanon formed a team to help coordinate cleanup and repairs efforts. Six staff, 11 interns and disciples, and several volunteers joined the effort to visit homes, churches, schools and hospitals to help with cleaning and clearing the glass and rubble caused by the explosion. The team was able to join in the efforts to clean 120 homes, two schools, four churches and one hospital. 

They did a field survey of homes affected by the explosion and assessed ways they could help the affected families. The needs varied from urgent repairs to walls, doors, windows, glass replacement, replacement of appliances to personal needs like food, medicine, elderly and baby care products. Teams were divided into smaller groups that went back to these homes to bless families by helping provide some of their needs. 

They met Anna through a referral by a family that we were helping. Anna is a single mother who raised three boys on her own after her husband left them. She used to work at a school selling snacks and cooking for elderly people around her neighborhood. After the Lebanese Revolution started in October and the COVID-19 lockdown happened in March, she lost her job at the school due to school closures.

As if that wasn’t enough, she also lost her job cooking for the elderly after their families requested she stop to prevent possible spread of the virus. Anna was left without a job and has since struggled to afford food for herself, leaving her going to bed most nights on an empty stomach.

Then the explosion happened and Anna was left devastated and lost hope completely. When our team showed up on her doorstep with food packages, she was overjoyed. She hadn’t received this kind of help or generosity from anyone.

After the team fixed things around her house, they shared about who they were and why they do what they do. “We told her our aim is to show God’s love and tell everyone about Him,” explained our partner. “She was very open since she was from a Christian background.”

They spent time praying for her and when it was done she cried, “Your prayer is so beautiful from the heart. I don’t deserve it. I’m so far away from God and I’m not a good person. I don’t talk to Him or anything. But sometimes I look up and speak to Him but I don’t feel He listens to me.”

“God is close to you and He loves you,” they reassured her. “He has been taking care of you. Whatever you say, He listens to you. Keep talking and praying to Him.”

Anna was so touched that she invited the team to come back another time. Once they left, she sent them a voice note saying, “I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for thinking about us and helping us. I’m so happy that everything in the food pack was what I really needed.”

The team has done 450 connections so far with the number expected to reach our 500 families target in the coming week. By early September, have visited 320 homes of the 420, blessing the people and providing repairs, food packs, medicine and the message of hope in a loving God who truly loves and cares for them. Of those they visited and blessed, 13 people made the decision to commit their lives to Jesus.

There is still a lot more to be done. The people of Beirut are still dealing with trauma, unemployment, food insecurity, a lack of available medical treatment and heightened stress.

Will you partner with us so that we can do more to reveal hope and restore life for those who have been affected?

Give Today

When we announced that we were working with local partners to respond to the crisis in Beirut, you stepped up to help. Because of your timely support, we have been able to provide relief and aid to families, individuals and churches that have been affected by the enormous August 4 explosion that left the city destroyed. Hundreds were killed, thousands were injured and hundreds of thousands were left homeless.

Our partners on the ground wasted no time, making sure to get out into the community to help clean up, deliver aid packages and spend time praying with the people they encountered. These acts of service provided even a little bit of hope for residents of the Lebanese capital, who have already endured multiple hardships, including a political and economic crisis, not to mention a global pandemic.

The Armenian Evangelical Central High School in Beirut was one of the buildings that sustained damage in the blast earlier this month. Our local partners spent two days at the school, helping clear broken glass and debris, and making sure to divide and sort for recycling.

They also spent time visiting houses in neighbourhoods in Ashrafieh (a district in Beirut), assessing the damage and cleaning up debris, as well as distributing aid including food packages, cleaning materials and care packages. Out of the visits came meaningful conversations with the people they interacted with. Every act of service provided the opportunity to share the love of Jesus and start to build authentic relationships.

There is still a lot more to be done. The people of Beirut are still dealing with trauma, unemployment, food insecurity, a lack of available medical treatment and heightened stress.


Give Today

The people of Beirut are still dealing with the aftermath of last week’s explosion, which left hundreds dead, thousands injured, and hundreds of thousands of people displaced.

This week, our local partners spent some time visiting neighbourhoods in Achrafieh to assess damage and help clean up debris. They also distributed food packages, cleaning materials and care packs while taking time to pray for the people that they encounter, helping to share God’s love in this devastating time.

We need your urgent help and partnership to support families and individuals in desperate need.

Will you partner with us to help reveal hope and restore life in Beirut? Your support will help make a difference.

Give Today

Thank you for keeping Global Aid Network (GAiN) in your prayers. You have been on our minds and hearts, and we continue to pray for those of you who are experiencing a challenging and stressful time. COVID-19 has changed the lives of people across the world, leaving many of us to deal with an evolving new normal and an uncertainty about the future. It is in times like these that we remember we are not alone and that we are all in this together.

“The COVID-19 virus knows no borders. This has been a wake-up call for the world to stand in solidarity and work together. If there was ever a time for countries and governments to support one another and invest in health globally, it is right now.” – Karina Gould, Minister of International Development for Global Affairs Canada.

GAiN is responding. Our deep desire and commitment is to continue revealing hope and restoring life to people living in crisis and injustice, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. The virus has now reached every one of the nine countries that we work in, affecting all of our projects in varying degrees. Although we have temporarily paused our normal project activities, mostly due to government restrictions and in order to mitigate risks in an ever-changing environment, our field teams have completed their early response assessments. Will you partner with us as we prepare our teams to respond?


As every project faces constraints with COVID-19, each country has its own urgent and unique need and we are responding in the following four ways that will continue to connect people, especially women and children who are among some of the most vulnerable, with resources that provide hope, faith and life.


“The provision of safe water, sanitation and hygienic conditions is essential to protecting human health during all infectious disease outbreaks, including the COVID-19 outbreak,” states the World Health Organization. As a result, our Water for Life Initiative teams in Benin, Togo and Tanzania are:

  • engaging with public health experts and local governments to complement country strategies
  • pivoting our community strategy to COVID-19 prevention by supplying handwashing stations and soaps and community health promotion
  • supporting local, village-level clinics with protective equipment (gloves, masks and sanitizers) and handwashing stations
  • engaging local pastors and their churches in disease prevention and health promotion in their surrounding communities on hygiene principles


The women entrepreneurs we support through our microfinance project in Paraguay are struggling to provide for their families. With a country-wide ban on public gatherings, they are unable to meet with their trust groups. To continue to support these women’s businesses and help empower them to make informed decisions, Diaconia, GAiN’s in-country partner, is developing a vocational training course on how to make cleaning products, as well as a video course on financial literacy during a crisis, which will be released on Facebook and Whatsapp. They’re also developing a crisis management module to train their trust group chaplains on dealing with trauma and loss.


The children GAiN supports in both Pandita Ramabai Mukti Mission in India and GAiN Upendo Center in Tanzania are under lockdown. Now that university students and vocational young adults were required to return to their campus, resources are stretched. Both Mukti and Upendo have some capacity to continue farming activities but food scarcity is a grave concern.

In response to several desperate requests, GAiN’s partner, Jesus Responde in Paraguay is preparing a minimum of 10,000 food packages made of soup mix and donated products for immediate distribution. Local church partners will deliver these packages on an as-needed basis, bringing hope right to the doors of those who are hungry.

Syria, with many at-risk families dependent on our Bags of Blessing program (food and non-food items), has banned public gatherings due to the ongoing pandemic. Our  church partner has prepared 500 bags (initially) for door-to-door distribution to respond to immediate essential needs. In response to COVID-19, GAiN and the local church will start preparing and distributing Clean Bags (containing the basic cleaning and disinfecting supplies) as an awareness and prevention initiative.


In coordination with our global GAiN offices, we are sending an emergency COVID-19 disaster response team to Lesbos, Greece to respond to the evolving crisis at Camp Moria. Home to 20,000 refugees fleeing conflicts in the Middle East, this refugee camp was only built for 3,000. Resources to support the refugees were already stretched and now it’s even harder to continue to provide much-needed care and support. Teams will distribute critical items such as hygiene sanitation goods, baby food, diapers, clothing and sleeping bags as well as set up a warehouse nearby so that emergency supplies are easily accessible.

God continues to move through His church and we are inspired by believers who are compelled to respond practically and are passionate about sharing the hope of Jesus to those living in despair, anxiety and fear. The spread of COVID-19 across the world has shown that we are all connected beyond borders, and that our decisions and actions in one country can have a significant impact in other countries. It’s how we respond as Christians to this global crisis, with love, courage and selflessness, that sets us apart.

This crisis has put us in a position to share the love of God with people all over the world. During this time of unprecedented global adversity, you can help make a difference in countries that may not be as equipped to deal with the virus and its impending consequences.

Together, when we reach out with care as well as address both the immediate and tangible needs, we help those impacted by this crisis discover the peace that only Jesus can bring.


Will you stand with us and help our local teams respond with compassionate activity and the transforming power of Jesus Christ?

In Christ’s love,

Ray Sawatsky
CEO – Global Aid Network (GAiN)

P.S. BE SURE NOT TO MISS THIS! Our front line leaders are appearing in the upcoming Online Speaker Series to personally update you on GAiN’s Covid-19 response. Click here to receive more information.

Undoubtedly, this is one of many emails you have received this week regarding the spread of the coronavirus and the corresponding COVID-19 respiratory disease. We appreciate your prayers and support for Global Aid Network (GAiN) as we continue to step forward daily into the unknown. In all the uncertainty, we are leaning on Jesus and His word.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

At GAiN, we are focusing on James 1 and the challenge of considering it is pure joy to find ourselves in difficult times. Reflecting on the words of Jesus’ brother, this season is meant for us to lift up our fears and anxieties fully to the Lord, for it is our Saviour that carries our cares and burdens. We are to take comfort in knowing that through Christ we receive the strength necessary to persevere through trials, and perseverance must finish its work so that we can be mature and complete, NOT lacking anything.

So we are asking for your prayers too as we pray for wisdom, not only for ourselves but for all the work and people of GAiN that serve in Benin, Togo, Tanzania, Syria, India, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Paraguay and Thailand.

As we make difficult decisions in response to the world situation, I endeavour to reflect to you the truth of 2 Timothy 1:7, where the author reminds us that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

While governments in almost all of the countries we work in have placed regulations on ministry activity, such as no public gatherings, we have also made the difficult decision to temporarily halt our international operations. Our heart is to continue to support our domestic and international staff financially through this time, so that they are safe, actively preventing the spread of the virus, and available to minister to their families, communities and churches as the coronavirus is present in each of the countries where GAiN has projects. We will be asking our international teams (120 people worldwide) to be in prayer and ready to respond to the need, country by country, as the situation evolves in the days and weeks to come, so they can be ready for the restarting of activity when appropriate.

We stand with our donors, our staff, our friends and people of the countries we serve in the face of this global crisis that affects us all. We stand in solidarity with our whole community and are ready for God to call us to what is next.

We know many of you have given financially for specific projects from water wells to humanitarian aid to evangelism activities. Thank you! We will continue to fulfill our commitments to you in the coming months.

Our priority at this moment is to make sure our staff are; first and foremost cared for and second, ready to respond as God leads us to respond to unique situations as it unfolds in the countries we are called to work in. In order to press into the unknown, we can trust in an all-knowing God who has promised to be with us wherever we go (Joshua 1:9).

This is not an appeal for funds, however, if you wish to join us in supporting our teams to stay ready to respond we would be grateful in this time of uncertainty.


We are together in this and want to encourage you to love others by taking wise steps to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. To ensure the protocols set by federal and provincial governments are being practiced, our head office has been working remotely from their homes as of Monday. For those staff that come into the office or need to leave their homes, we have encouraged them to practice social distancing and proper hand washing techniques.

Many of us will need to self-isolate at some point and we encourage you to build community in whatever ways you can. Next week, we want to invite all of you to join our weekly prayer and worship time because as Proverbs reminds us “an anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” (Proverbs 12:25). This will be a time for a devotion led by a GAiN staff member and a time of corporate prayer. If you would like to be put on the invite list to join us for prayer and community each Wednesday morning at 10:00 am PST, please click the link below, fill out the form and we will send you the connection details.


Let me close by reminding you that we desire to journey with you! If you would like to speak with someone from GAiN or would like someone to pray with you, please email us at admin@globalaid.net and one of our staff will get back to you within 24 hours.

Please join me in prayer without ceasing for these extraordinary times.

Ray Sawatsky
CEO & Executive Director
Global Aid Network (GAiN)

Earlier this week, WHO declared COVD-19 a pandemic. We recognize that we are living in a time of anxiety and stress, and wanted to provide an update on our current operations and response to the situation.

How does this affect GAiN?

The Government of Canada recently advised Canadians to avoid all non-essential international travel. As an organization that works globally, this affects GAiN in many ways.

We would like to assure you that as of now, we are still operating and our work in the field is continuing as usual.

LIFE Team updates
Our utmost priority is the health and safety of our volunteers and staff. In light of the most recent travel advisory and because of the uncertainty related to travel, we have made the decision to cancel our May Paraguay LIFE Team, operated in partnership with Power to Change Students.

The status of our August LIFE Team to India is currently on a wait-and-see status. As we continue to monitor all government recommendations related to travel, we will make a decision closer to the application deadline (June 15).

Are we doing anything in the field?
Our work in Togo, Benin and Tanzania, has involved hygiene and sanitation trainings, long before COVID-19. Having worked with many rural communities and local health centres, we know the impact that knowledge, education and proper implementation of hygiene and sanitation can have on a community.

For our in-country teams, we are actively monitoring the situation and are preparing a plan in the event that drilling operations need to be shut down and teams need to be pulled from villages.

“Our international teams have been updated on information specific to COVID-19 and supported to practice frequent handwashing, social distancing as needed, and recognition of respiratory symptoms requiring medical attention,” says Joel Bond, Maternal, Newborn & Child Health Project Coordinator for GAiN, and RN. “Information has been changing on a daily basis so we are monitoring the situation closely and will continue communication with our country managers.”

And as usual, our teams are continuing work in villages to promote proper handwashing.

As of March 13, there has been one reported case of COVID-19 in Togo. So far, the situation seems to be under control and national health authorities are emphasizing the importance of good hygiene (specifically handwashing) practices to the people of Togo.

We are also in contact with our partner in Syria, as the Syrian government has just declared that it is closing everything down until April.

As a result, the church in Damascus has cancelled all meetings. The church is currently in an emergency situation. At the moment, we are doing our best to figure out how to handle the thousands of people who are attending and visiting the church.

Ways you can help

We are continuing to monitor the news and keep updated on the situation as things are constantly changing. While this can feel like a time of great uncertainty, we wanted to share our response to the situation.

At GAiN, our mission is to reveal hope and restore life to people living in crisis and injustice. We hope to continue to demonstrate the love of God in practical ways, not just overseas but also in our own communities. Here are some of the ways that we can do this at this time:

1) Prioritize the health and safety of yourselves and others.

We believe that as responsible citizens, we should prioritize limiting the spread of the disease. Continue to wash hands properly and avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes. Keep at least one metre distance between yourself and people who may be sick.

Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Either sneeze or cough into a tissue or your elbow.

If you’re feeling symptoms of COVID-19, (https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/symptoms.html#s), stay at home and isolate as quickly as possible.

2) Be a light in your community.

In this time of anxiety and fear, people need encouragement now, more than ever. Although we may have to limit social gatherings, it’s important to continue to care for one another as best as possible. This could mean calling to check in on someone who may be lonely or afraid. Be open to listening to one another and offer to pray for each other.

“A new command I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” -John 13:34 (NIV)

Part of being responsible citizens is avoiding panic buying and hoarding. This can leave people who live day-to-day without the necessities.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, of love, and self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

It’s also good to be aware of false information that may circulate online and be careful not to spread it. Be sure to get accurate information and news from credible sources.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27 (NIV)

30 October 2017 – The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or D’aesh) may be largely pushed out of Syria’s Raqqa governorate, but after years of oppression and nearly a year of intense fighting – marked recently by heavy airstrikes – humanitarian needs will continue to be large for some time, the top United Nations relief official told the Security Council Monday.

“Since the beginning of the anti-ISIL offensive in November last year, airstrikes and clashes have resulted in more than 436,000 people being displaced from Raqqa to 60 different locations, including in neighbouring governorates,” UN Emergency Relief Coordinator said briefing the Council via videoconference from Amman, Jordan.

“One conclusion is obvious: the impact of the Syria crisis continues to be profound.”

Expressing deep worry about the impact of fighting and airstrikes on civilians and civilian infrastructure in Raqqa governorate, with scores of civilians reportedly killed in recent months, he said he is also concerned for the safety and protection of civilians at risk from unexploded ordinance throughout Raqqa city, particularly those trying to return to their homes.

“Despite the directive issued by local authorities for civilians not to return to the city until it is deemed safe, the UN anticipates that people will go back to try to check on and protect their homes and their personal assets,” Mr. Lowcock explained.

Further to the east, in Deir Ez-Zor governorate, heavy fighting and airstrikes continue to result in civilian deaths and injuries. Large-scale displacement also continues, with the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) reporting some 350,000 people displaced since August, including more than 250,000 people in October alone.

As for eastern Ghouta, Mr. Lowcock daily shelling has continued to be reported in recent weeks. Humanitarian access to eastern Ghouta – one of the four de-escalated areas where nearly 95 per cent of Syria’s besieged population lives – has been severely curtailed for months. Since the start of the year 110,000 people have received food assistance, out of an estimated population of nearly 400,000.

“Today the UN and partners delivered food, nutrition and health assistance to 40,000 people, he told the Council, warning however that an alarming number of child malnutrition cases have been recorded there, and more than 400 people with health problems require medical evacuation.

Overall, he said that more than 13 million people inside Syria still need humanitarian assistance. 6.3 million of them are exceptionally vulnerable and in acute need because of displacement, hostilities, and limited access to basic goods and services. “Conflict and violations of international humanitarian law continue to be the principal drivers of humanitarian need, with civilians in many parts of the country enduring massive suffering.”

“Against this background, the UN and our partners continue to implement in Syria one of the largest humanitarian operations in the world,” said Mr. Lowcock who is the UN Under-Secretary-General for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, noting, by example that in September, the World Food Programme (WFP) provided food assistance to more than 3.3 million people, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reached over 1.5 million people, and the World health Organization (WHO) reached over 800,000 people.

He also went on to point out that cross-border assistance provided for in last year’s Council resolution 2165 “has been a lifeline,” allowing the UN to reach millions of people in need in northern and southern parts of Syria. On average, aid was delivered to 2.76 million people a month through cross-border operations between January and August of this year.

“Our experience with cross-line operations from within Syria […] leads us to believe that it would be impossible to reach those people in a sustained manner from within Syria. I therefore regard a renewal of resolution 2165 as essential. Millions of people depend on the activities it mandates,” he underscored.


(Image Source: UNICEF/UN066040/Souleiman)

27 October 2017 – The United Nations human rights chief on Friday called on the parties to the conflict in Syria to allow badly needed food and medical supplies to Eastern Ghouta in rural Damascus, describing the situation of at least 350,000 besieged civilians there as “an outrage.”

“The shocking images of what appear to be severely malnourished children that have emerged in recent days are a frightening indication of the plight of people in Eastern Ghouta, who are now facing a humanitarian emergency,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in a news release from his office (OHCHR).

Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of the nation’s capital, is being considered one of the “de-escalation areas” brokered in May by Iran, Russia and Turkey under the Astana process. However, residential areas, including those areas previously spared attack, are now being hit on an almost daily basis by ground-based strikes by Government forces and their allies.

The UN human rights office has also received reports of armed opposition groups conducting ground-based strikes on Damascus.

Various armed groups controlling the area have restricted the work of humanitarian organisations, and clashes between these groups have for months limited civilians’ freedom of movement within the region.

The UN last reached Eastern Ghouta on 23 September. Between January and September, the Government only accepted 26 per cent of requests to deliver assistance to besieged and hard-to-reach areas.

“I remind all parties that the deliberate starvation of civilians as a method of warfare constitutes a clear violation of international humanitarian law, and may amount to a crime against humanity and/or a war crime,” said Mr. Zeid.

Unidentified attackers reportedly stormed and looted a food warehouse in the Eastern Ghouta town of Hamourya on 19 October. The following day several hundred people allegedly looted a second warehouse in the town – a possible sign of growing desperation.

“If parties to a conflict cannot meet the needs of the population under their control, they must allow and facilitate efforts by impartial humanitarian agencies to provide aid, including by granting them the right of free passage,” he stressed.


Photo credit: UNICEF/Aho Yousef

3 October 2017 – Dwindling resources could severely jeopardize efforts to provide refugees and displaced persons across the Middle East with essential winter supplies such as thermal blankets and warm clothing, the United Nations refugee agency has warned.

For many it will be the seventh consecutive winter in displacement, living in tents or in makeshift settlements in near-freezing temperatures.

“We estimate that as many as four million are at extreme risk and need timely and substantial help to properly prepare for the forthcoming winter [and] of these only one in four are likely to get the assistance they need,” said Andrej Mahecic, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), calling for greater funding for the agency’s response plan to ensure help is provided to all in desperate need.

According to estimates, there are nearly 15 million Syrian and Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons across the region, in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Iraq.

With their needs rising significantly during winter due to the harsh conditions, ensuring sufficient funding for UN agency’s Regional Winter Assistance Plan for 2017/2018 (amounting to $245 million but only 26 per cent funded) is critical, the spokesperson noted.

“Without proper help, many refugee families end up being pushed further into debt and come under increased pressure to resort to desperate steps to try to make ends meet. Women and children are especially affected,” Mr. Mahecic added.

Throughout this autumn (September-November), UNHCR plans to provide cash assistance, distribute winter items and invest in preparation, insulation and repairs of shelters, as well as improve drainage in the camps.

With sufficient funding, the Regional Plan will ensure basic winter necessities – including blankets, clothing, tarpaulin and fuel – are provided to refugees and displaced persons. It will also assist those living below the poverty line with a special assistance programme.

More than 50 per cent of the assistance package is scheduled to be delivered in cash which would allow refugees and the internally displaced to address their priorities and meet urgent needs.


(Article Source)