International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Syria: Invaluable partners

The International Rescue Committee is one of only a few international humanitarian organizations working in the often-overlooked Al-Hasakah region of eastern Syria, where a lack of basic services and security has made the delivery of food and supplies difficult. Trade routes have been disrupted and infrastructure destroyed during the country’s ongoing civil war. Aid organizations are finding it imperative to partner with local nonprofit groups to continue to access the area.

The IRC has partnered with an Iraqi-based nonprofit to pilot a program distributing rations (each with enough rice, beans, canned fish, cooking oil and other staples to feed six people) to 750 families for two months. The organization, whose name is being concealed for security reasons, is well established in the region with a long history of support, training and capacity-building projects in Iraq as well as Syria since the crisis began.

According to Muriel Tschopp, the IRC emergency response team’s deputy field director, “Partners like this one have a pre-established network of connections in areas that are not necessarily accessible to the IRC in terms of direct implementation, so that provides us the ability to reach a wider range of beneficiaries and to reach areas that international organizations with international staff might not be able to access for security reasons. It also opens up the ability to access areas faster and more immediately at the start-up phase because the network already exists.”

While the IRC gains from the partner organization’s experience and access, the local nonprofit benefits from continued support of its mission as well as new technology and the IRC’s experience in areas like field monitoring.

“A partnership with the IRC is within [our organization’s] strategic planning [to give Syrians] the option of staying rather than becoming refugees,” explains Ali, the head of the nonprofit (his name has been changed). “The IRC has introduced a new method of monitoring that will help our organization in the future. Our staff will also benefit from the automated tracking system that is planned to be applied in the project.”

The partner organization and the IRC worked together closely to ensure that the food rations reach the most vulnerable groups. “They are very committed to the Syrian people,” Tschopp says of the partner group. “We are providing them with training and building their capacity with new ideas that we bring from elsewhere in the world.”

As the program launches, hopes are high for the collaboration. “We will continue, if it goes well, to work with them inside Syria and potentially increase the scope and size of the partnership,” Tschopp adds.

With winter approaching and demand for supplies increasing, the IRC and our partners are committed to opening new channels to provide crucial lifesaving aid.

Aiding uprooted Syrians

The International Rescue Committee is working inside Syria and in four neighboring countries, providing support to hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced Syrians.  

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