News From the Region

Strong Kids, Strong Emotions.jpg

Read this news story from Presbyterian Mission about Scott Parker’s work with children from Syria and Iraq. Scott’s Strong Kids, Strong Emotions play-based trauma resilience program ministry is with the Middle East Council of Churches in Beirut for refugee children ages 7-12.

Scott’s wife is Elmarie Parker, the PC(USA) regional liaison to Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria. Elmarie and Scott have served in the Middle East since 2013.

The children Scott works with have endured a lot. Their families moved to Lebanon to escape violence in their home countries. While life in Lebanon is safer, it’s still hard. Many refugees live in cramped apartments and have limited employment opportunities. The children and their families deal with trauma, loss, separation, and stress.

The Strong Kids, Strong Emotions program currently serves 15 children for 12 Saturdays. After that a new group begins. Scott’s goal is to be able to work with children multiple times a week after school. “The long-term goal is to work with a larger group of kids for an indefinite time,” he says. “Experts tell us the best way to do trauma resiliency is through long-term relationships, but logistically we just don’t have that luxury right now.”

MECC Middle East Overview, June 2019

Below is some current information from the MECC June 2019 Middle East Overview about refugees in Lebanon and internally displaced people (IDPs) in Syria.

Information is presented in the report for various Middle East countries: Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Cyprus. MECC collates information from a number of sources, including Al Jazeera, Reuters, the Daily Star (Beirut), Relief Web, and other Middle East news sources. The Middle East Overview also includes sections on Church activities, MECC headquarters activities, and MECC humanitarian activities.

Read or download the full report for June.


  •  In May 2019, the humanitarian community recorded 316,662 internally displaced people (IDP) across Syria.

  • More than two-thirds of the IDP population were displaced to locations in Idleb governorate with 196,167 being displaced within Idleb governorate and 64,949 individuals being displaced from areas in north Hama governorate affected by the ongoing hostilities.

  • The second largest population movement was recorded in the west and north part of Aleppo governorate outside government control with a total of 45,759 individuals, including 25,189 arriving from conflict-affected areas in Hama governorate, 14,225 from Idleb governorate, and 6,225 from within Aleppo governorate.

  • Overall, the large population movement is due to the ongoing violence in southern Idleb, northern Hama and western Aleppo governorates where people from communities affected by airstrikes, shelling and ground fighting are fleeing to find safety.


  • Since the beginning of June, the number of registered refugees in Lebanon is 935,454. Refugees in Lebanon are distributed as follows:

    • 341,475 in Bekaa (36.5%)

    • 246,501 in North Lebanon (26.4%)

    • 237,126 in Beirut (25.3%)

    • 110,352 in South Lebanon (11.8%)

  • Confrontation between local communities and Syrian refugees significantly increased during this month. Demolition of refugee structures took place in several areas and various regulations were imposed on them. For instance, several hundreds were displaced as a result of calls for forcible removal.

  • On June 18, the Russian president’s special envoy to Syria arrived in Lebanon as part of efforts to bolster communication between Beirut and Damascus to solve the refugee crisis.