Faith groups spearheaded by the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) are scaling-up humanitarian aid to thousands of civilians severely affected, or forced to flee their homes, due to the civil war in Syria.

The groups have been able to deliver aid to the old city of Homs, at the center of the conflict, said Michel Nseir, program executive for special focus on the Middle East at the World Council of Churches.

Some Jesuit monks and Greek Orthodox priests “are still able to operate” in the old city, he said.

More than 17,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the conflict between forces defending President Bashar al-Assad’s government and rebel armed groups.

Nseir said Christian church groups are not only helping thousands of people still living in Homs, but also people who have been displaced to Damascus, Tartous, and neighboring countries such as Lebanon.

The ACT Alliance, the IOCC ― operating through the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East ― and Jesuit relief groups have been active in the aid effort, said Nseir.

The Damascus-based Church of Antioch is coordinating its aid efforts through local churches, the Syrian Red Crescent, and other Islamic Organizations in the country.

The support has included medical kits and surgical instruments, food and hygiene kits, clothing, kitchen sets, and counseling to traumatized families and children.

John Ging, director of operations at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, attended a meeting of the Syrian Humanitarian Forum to try to raise more aid funds.

“If we don't get more money, people will die and there will be more humanitarian suffering,” he said. “The needs will continue to grow as long as this conflict continues.”