A Letter from IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities)

IOCC International Orthodox Christian Charities

August 9, 1995

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

You have read the news, and we can only confirm the worst from reports sent to us by our staff in Belgrade and Banja Luka...150,000 Serbs are fleeing, perhaps nev er to return to their ancestral home in the Krajina....50,000 have gathered aroun d Banja Luka, and thousands more are moving toward the frontier of Serbia.

This is the largest single movement of any population during the entire conflict in the former Yugoslavia. IOCC is the only international non-governmental organi zation operating from Belgrade and ready to provide immediate assistance. Within hours, IOCC staff had begun distributing food parcels to over 10,000 refugees on their journey to the frontier.

IOCC is now appealing for $2 million to provide essential relief supplies to this new wave of refugees. We are turning to every possible source. Already, we hav e received some assistance from non-Orthodox friends who have a Christian compass ion for anyone in need. Now, I must turn to you and beg that you demonstrate wha t our community can do. IOCC is being asked to take the lead by other internatio nal agencies. We can only do so and help so many, now terrorized by need and fea r of the unknown, with your crucial support. If your desire is to help us take t he lead, I am asking for a level of generosity beyond your contributions of the p ast. Please measure your donation not by what you have given before, but by the desperation of those in need.

We may never know what it is like to have to evacuate our homes, carrying with us only a few cherished possessions and the plaguing questions of what the future h olds and whether safety and a home can ever again be found. Yet, no greater invi tation could be given to us to be a Good Samaritan that that which appears before us at present. Please help us to help those who, like the man in the same parab le, lay beaten at the side of the road, awaiting the loving touch of someone who cared.

Please send your check today in the enclosed envelope. The needs are great and n ow is the time when we are all called to reach beyond ourselves.

Most sincerely, Alexander G. Rondos, Executive Director

711 W. 40th Street, Suite 306
Baltimore, MD 21211
(410) 243-9820 or Fax: (410) 243-9824

For Immediate Release: Urgent Appeal

IOCC Responds to Emergency Needs of Refugees Fleeing From Krajina

August 8, 1995 (Baltimore): An estimated 150,000 Serbians are fleeing the Kr ajina region of Croatia following the latest offensive of the Croatian army. Ref ugees are moving toward the main Serbian town of Banja Luka in Western Bosnia whe re at least 50,000 have gathered and are proceeding onward toward Serbia. As of August 8, agencies in Belgrade estimated that, at times during the first 32 horse , about 1,000 people per hour were crossing the frontier from Bosnia into Serbia. Camps are being set up along the frontier to receive the anticipated flow of re fugees. Emergency relief efforts are hampered by sanctions which have reduced th e amount of assistance available.

IMMEDIATE RESPONSEIOCC staff and operating partners are positioned in West ern Bosnia to report on current conditions, and facilitate distributions. Within the last three days, IOCC distributed 2,800 food parcels to over 10,000 refugees as they proceeded through the region to the frontier; and plans to dispatch hyg iene kits throughout Bosnia to nearly 72,000 people. With the assistance of Bish op LAVRENTIJE of Sabac, a hospital kit donated by Metropolitan Irinej, containing enough medicines for a 300-bed hospital for one month, is on route to one of the four original collective centers in Loznica. Approximately 1,500 children's kit s, donated by the Northwest Indiana Circle of Serbian Sisters, will be distribute d this week.

Emergency program stocks must be replenished now. IOCC is appealing for $ 500,000 immediately to replenish emergency program stocks, diverted to mee t this crisis, in order to maintain regular distributions to people and instituti ons already receiving assistance. An additional $2 million is desperately needed to provide emergency food, pharmaceuticals, hygiene supplies, clothing, b lankets, tents, and utensils over the next six months for approximately 60,000 re fugees. It is unlikely that many of these refugees will ever return to their hom es and towns.

Accepting cold winter weather within a month or two, IOCC/Belgrade must stock-pil e food and pharmaceutical supplies now to meet increased needs, and unpredictable shifts in population. IOCC will also purchase winter clothing from neighboring countries to facilitate a swifter response at reduced costs.

IOCC is issuing this urgent appeal for funds to replenish depleted warehouse comm odities, purchase emergency supplies, transport commodities, and provide administ rative support for this program. Donations should be marked "Yugoslavia Emergenc y Fund" and sent to: IOCC, P.O. Box 630225, Baltimore, MD 21263-0225.

IOCC is implementing partner of the World Council of Churches providing humanitar ian assistance to those areas of Bosnia accessible from Serbia. IOCC maintains r egular coordination with UN agencies (United Nations High Commissioner for Refuge es and World Food Program) and other non-governmental organizations operating in Belgrade, and is the official agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Ort hodox Bishops in the Americas. IOCC serves all on the basis of need alone.