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CARE Stands Up — and Runs — to Spotlight Shocking Syrian Crisis at Three-Year Mark

CARE team runs “Dead 2 Red Marathon” for those displaced by marathon crisis in Syria


AMMAN — From a mega-marathon in Jordan to a candlelight vigil in Washington, D.C., CARE is joining efforts around the world this week to raise awareness and support for the more than 9 million Syrians who remain in urgent need of assistance three years after their country erupted into conflict.

On Thursday, 10 CARE aid workers and Syrian refugees will run the 150-mile “Dead 2 Red” ultra marathon in Jordan. The team brings together CARE staff involved in the emergency response as well as Syrian refugees who volunteer for CARE in Jordan and Lebanon. The volunteers used to work in Syria as an engineer, a graphic designer and a teacher. Two were students. Now, their lives are on hold. “I have witnessed my mother shot by a sniper and my sister losing her baby out of shock,” says Omran Almish, who volunteers for CARE’s urban refugee centre in Amman. “I am running the marathon so no more sons have to lose their mothers. I am also running to show the world how much Syrians themselves are doing to support their fellow refugees.”

CARE offices around the world will participate in the #WithSyria campaign this week, too. In Washington, D.C., the effort will culminate with a candlelight vigil outside the White House on Thursday. Already, CARE has put on display at the Russell Senate Office Building a selection of “Dear World” photos in which Syrian refugees have written poignant messages on their bodies, such as “When shall we return?” and “I want the life I had back.”  

CARE President and CEO Helene D. Gayle also has joined a group of 50 CEOs calling for greater humanitarian access and funding of the response. “Our concern is mixed with horror and frustration,” reads the March 6 statement from heads of relief organizations belonging to InterAction, an alliance of international relief organizations. “Horror at the impact of brutal tactics on the lives of civilians and frustration at the inability of the peace process to bring the violence to a halt and allow for effective humanitarian action.”

That same frustration will help propel members of CARE’s Dead 2 Red marathon team as they run a race that starts at an altitude of 1,360 feet below sea level, moves through the Araba desert and up to an altitude of about 400 feet above sea level. The race ends on the shores of the Gulf of Aqaba, all within 24 hours.

”The response to this biggest humanitarian crisis of recent times is drastically underfunded. And there is no end of the conflict in sight”, said Wolfgang Gressmann, CARE’s deputy director for the Syria response who will accompany the team through the desert. “Giving up on Syria cannot be an option . . . The team’s desire is to give refugees and those affected by the crisis inside Syria a voice. It is the team’s wish to call for renewed attention and to remember the humanity and dignity of all those suffering as a result of the three-year-long conflict.“

The global runners’ team seeks to raise $50,000 in donations to support CARE’s emergency response to the Syrian crisis. In total, CARE has launched an appeal of $200 million to assist Syrian refugees over the next four years.

CARE’s Syria Response:

CARE’s provision of life-saving services to Syrian refugees and host communities in Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt and to people affected by the crisis in Syria has already reached more than 290,000 people. In Jordan, CARE provides Emergency Cash Assistance for refugees so they can pay for basic living costs, including rent, medication and food. CARE assists with vital information on how refugees can access further health, legal and social support and provides psychosocial assistance to women, men and children. CARE Lebanon repairs water and sanitation infrastructure provides health education sessions, works with municipalities to improve water supply and sanitation infrastructure for refugees as well as for host communities. Syrian volunteers, who are refugees themselves, are an integral part of CARE’s Syria Response. Alongside Jordanian and Lebanese volunteers, they assist in organising and preparing distributions of relief items.

During the winter months, CARE helped families in Jordan and Lebanon to prepare for and cope with the cold winter, distributing cash, heaters, fuel vouchers, blankets and floor mats. CARE Egypt has started raising awareness among the refugees of sexual exploitation and other forms of gender-based violence to protect them from any form of abuse. Our support to families affected by the crisis in Syria is based on humanitarian needs alone, no matter which religion, political affiliation or ethnicity people belong to.

About CARE: Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty and providing lifesaving assistance in emergencies. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor girls and women because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to help lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. CARE has been working in Jordan since 1948. CARE Jordan has extensive experience working with refugees, providing livelihood training and opportunities, emergency cash assistance, information sharing and psychosocial support to Iraqi refugees since 2003.

About the Dead Sea to Red Sea marathon:

The Dead to Red Marathon is a relay event suitable for amateurs and athletes of all ages and genders without restriction. The marathon goes 242 kilometres from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea. It starts at an altitude of -415 metres below sea level, leads through the Araba desert to an altitude of 120 metres above sea level before descending towards the shores of the Gulf of Aqaba. The race starts at 4pm on the 13th of March. The teams have 24 hours (until 4pm on the 14th of March) to finish the race. There is always one team members running at a time. The other team members will follow the runner in a car and take turns. The Dead to Red offers no monetary awards at all. The purpose of this event is to enjoy a challenge, the scenery and have fun. Sponsors support this event by providing T-shirts, medals and nominal trophies for several categories as well as a dinner to celebrate the end of the event and to recognize all participants.


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