Refugee desperation and need felt at IHQ
by Captain Mike Olsen –
International Emergency Consultant, IHQ
Each morning, we turn on our computers to find 50 to 100 e-mail reports on Salvation Army disaster operations around the world. Staff members are reporting in, field reports are being submitted, requests for assistance are being forwarded and reports of new disasters arrive from wire services and international aid sources. As we plow through the piles of correspondence, it is easy to succumb to a sense of desperation at seeing so much need and knowing that resources are so limited.
Our newest major operation is to provide assistance to the Salvationists in Southern Russia, who are going in harm’s way to assist the refugees flowing out of war-torn Chechnya. This is a major food, clothing and medical assistance effort, which is supported largely by donations from Salvationists and charitable organizations in western countries. Initial rescue efforts will cost us about $400,000, though we have started much of our efforts on the faith that the funding will come.
Buried in this morning’s stack of financial statements, progress reports and other paperwork from the team in Ingushetia, Captain Geoff Ryan included a small tragic story written by our assistant project director in Nazran, Ingushetia. Over 240,000 refugees are crowding tent camps, old cargo containers, rail cars and other shelters, seeking refuge from the fierce mountain winter weather. We share it, as it gives a small flavor of the pain and frustration of the people we are attempting to serve in Ingushetia.