InterAction Members Respond to the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Photo By: EU/ECHO/Caroline Gluck (CC)

As the number of displaced people grows amid ongoing political conflict in Syria, InterAction members remain committed to the response effort.  

On Sept. 21, the White House announced an additional $419 million in humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees, bringing the United States' total aid contribution to the crisis in Syria – now in its fifth year – to $4.5 billion.

Yet as continued extreme violence and indiscriminate fighting affect the country, the need for ongoing humanitarian assistance and a comprehensive political solution is greater than ever. The United Nations estimates that 7.6 million people have been internally displaced by violence while almost 4.1 million people have fled their homes, schools and communities and are now registered as refugees in neighboring countries. The influx and prolonged presence of refugees is crippling the nations that are hosting them, further destabilizing an already fragile region.

Additionally, 322,000 people – of which at least 70 percent are refugees, mostly coming from Syria – have crossed into Europe since the beginning of 2015. UNHCR estimates that some 2,500 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean.

Below is a list of InterAction members available to speak to the media on issues relating to the refugee crisis, such as fundraising and advocacy in the U.S., working on the ground in Europe with refugees and addressing the displaced populations in Syria and neighboring nations.

To learn more about the broader activities of InterAction members, responding since 2013 to vulnerable communities impacted by the conflict, please visit InterAction's Syria Crisis List

Media Contacts for InterAction Members Responding to the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Click on an organization for its media contact and to learn more about the NGO's response.


CARE | Catholic Relief Services | Church World Service | Global Communities | GlobalGiving 


Handicap International | Helping Hand for Relief and Development | Islamic Relief USA | International Medical Corps | International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) | International Rescue Committee


Lutheran World Relief | Mercy Corps | Mercy USA | Oxfam America


Refugees International | Save the Children USA | Shelter Box | UNICEF USA | Women for Women | World Vision Zakat Foundation of America


  • Overview: CARE is reaching Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt and Yemen, as well as those displaced inside Syria with food, hygiene items and emergency cash assistance to help refugees cover basic living costs like food and rent. CARE also provides psychosocial support, referrals for needs such as healthcare and help strengthening water supply and sewage systems, so both Syrian refugees and host families’ lives are improved.

  • Media Contacts: Holly Frew, Emergency Communications Officer |Office: 404-979-9389 | Email | Twitter: @hollyfrew | Alternative Contact: Nicole Harris | Email | Office: 404-735-0871| 

Catholic Relief Services

  • Overview: Catholic Relief Services is working with its Church partners in Greece, Albania, Macedonia and Serbia to provide immediate assistance, including food, water, access to sanitation and medical care. CRS is also providing legal and translation services to help families better their rights, and be able to make informed decisions about their future.

  • Media Contact: Kim Pozniak, Communications Officer, Global Emergencies and Sub-Saharan Africa | Office: 410-951-7281| Email | Twitter: @KimPoz

Church World Service

  • Overview: Church World Service has teams assessing the influx of refugees into Serbia as they journey to European Union states. CWS also continues to support its ACT Alliance partners’ work in Jordan and other points.

  • Media Contact: Matt Hackworth, Director of Marketing and Communications | Email

Global Communities

  • Overview: Global Communities is a world leader in shelter strategies for vulnerable communities. In Lebanon, where there are no camps, Global Communities is working to provide housing and shelter for refugees. In Jordan, Global Communities is working to strengthen host communities to help them cope with the influx of refugees into the country.

  • Media Contact: Amy Levey, Senior Communications Officer| Email | Office: 301-587-4700


  • Overview: GlobalGiving has had a Syrian Refugee Relief Fund since 2012, and has helped raise $277,000 from 2,447 donors in 49 countries for 14 projects serving refugees. (Media Note: GlobalGiving doesn't have any staff on the ground, can speak to topics like the fundraising response.)

  • Media Contact: Alison Carlman, Senior Manager, Marketing and Communications | Email

Handicap International

  • Overview: Handicap International has worked with injured Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon since the summer of 2012. In summer 2014, Handicap International extended its operations to include Syrian refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan. Handicap International currently employs more than 600 national and expatriate staff to aid refugees and internally displaced persons in the countries affected by the Syrian conflict.

  • Media Contact: Mica Bevington, Communications Director | Email | Office: 240-450-3531 | Twitter: MicaBevington

Helping Hand for Relief and Development

  • Overview: Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD) has been working with Syrian refugees since 2012. With careful consideration HHRD's Jordan office was opened to serve refugees in both Jordan and Lebanon. HHRD's Orphans Sponsor Program is also supporting over 1,300 Syrian refugee orphans.

  • Media Contact: Mariya Nadeem, Chief Marketing Officer | Email

Islamic Relief USA

  • Overview: Islamic Relief USA and its global family have been responding to the Syria crisis, both within the country and outside in all the neighboring countries, over the past five years. In over 13 countries across Europe, the Islamic Relief family is already on the ground.

  • Media Contact: Christina Tobias-Nahi, MA, EdM, Director of Public Affairs & Institutional Funding | Email | Office: 703-370-7202 | Direct: 703-236-9796

International Medical Corps

  • Overview: Since the crisis in Syria began, International Medical Corps has been working to provide relief to Syrians inside Syria as well as for Syrian refugees in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. IMC programs include a broad range of services, from primary health care efforts to programs focusing on preventing gender-based violence.

  • Media Contacts: Lisa Ellis, Director of Global Communications | Office:  310-826-7800 | Email | Alternative Contact: Rebecca Gustafson, Senior Advisor, Global Communications |International Medical Corps| Office 202-828-5155 | Email

International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC)

  • Overview: International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is working on the ground across Syria to provide aid to people who have been displaced inside the country by the civil war and address the growing needs of more than four million refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Armenia, Greece and Serbia, as well as people in need in those host countries. 

  • Media Contact: Rada K. Tierney, Communications Manager | Email | Office: 410-243-9820 

International Rescue Committee

  • Overview: For over 80 years the International Rescue Committee has been helping refugees find safety and rebuild their lives. IRC is working around the clock to aid uprooted families inside Syria and across the region, as well as exhausted refugees who have reached Greece after a perilous journey by sea.

  • Media Contacts: Lucy Carrigan, Senior Media Relations Officer | Email | Office: 212-551-0969 | Alternative Contact: Akshita Bhanjdeo | Email | For urgent press requests, please call: 646-761-0307.

Lutheran World Relief

  • Overview: Lutheran World Relief is responding to Syrian refugees in Serbia with its partner International Orthodox Christian Charities with material resources, namely quilts and personal care, school and baby care kits.

  • Media Contact: John Rivera, Media Relations Manager | Email | Office: 410-230-2751

Mercy Corps

  • Overview: Mercy Corps is on the ground working to address the urgent needs of 3.7 million people inside Syria and in neighboring Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey.

  • Media Contact: Christine Nyirjesy Bragale, ABC, Director of Media Relations | Email | Direct: 202-469-8470

Mercy USA

  • Overview: Mercy-USA currently has humanitarian field teams inside Syria and has been in the country providing relief since 2012. This includes assisting 1,000 displaced and vulnerable families with monthly food baskets and infant formula in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.

  • Media Contact: Kari Ansari, Director of Communications and Public Affairs | Email | Office: 703-652-6002

Oxfam America

  • Overview: In Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, Oxfam is helping families get the essential supplies they need, while protecting public health with clean water and safe sanitation. In Italy, Oxfam is responding to the needs of vulnerable refugees who have been rescued from the waters of the Mediterranean. Oxfam is also conducting advocacy and policy work in favor of expanded refugee resettlement, funding and a political solution to the conflict.

  • Media Contacts: Vanessa Parra, Senior Press Officer, Humanitarian | Office: 202- 496-1196 | Email | Alternative Contact: Lauren Hartnett, Humanitarian Press Officer | Office: 617-371-2733  | Email

Refugees International

  • Overview: Refugees International has been doing public education and advocacy on the Syrian refugee crisis for the past four years with an expert (Daryl Grisgraber) available for media comment who just returned from the region.

  • Media Contact: Dara McLeod, Director of Communications & Acting Manager of Program | Email | Office: 202-540-7025 

Save the Children USA

  • Overview: Save the Children is in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria working with governments and our partner agencies to respond to the needs of Syrian children and their families. Save the Children is also working in Italy and starting to work in Greece with Syrian refugees.

  • Media Contact: Francine Uenuma, Director, Media Relations and Communications (Currently in Greece) | Email | Office:  202.640.6810

Shelter Box

  • Overview: ShelterBox has been providing emergency shelter and supplies to families affected by the Syrian crisis in Iraq Kurdistan, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. This includes efforts to provide winterized tents to shelter families fr om the cold, as well as warm blankets, hats, gloves, scarves, stoves for heating and cooking, water filters and other lifesaving supplies. ShelterBox also has active teams deployed in Greece.

  • Media Contact: Chris Alexander, Communications Manager | Email | Office: 941-907-6036 Ext. 102


  • Overview: UNICEF is working on the Syrian refugee crisis to provide medicine, education, water and sanitation, supplies and more to children and families in and around Syria. (Media Note: UNICEF has a spokesman on the border of Greece & Macedonia available for interviews as well as photo & video assets from refugee camps in the Bekka valley.)

  • Media Contacts: Jodi Patkin, Senior Director, Public Relations | Email (Please copy Lissette Vargas);  | Office: 212-922-2634 | Alternative Contact: Andrea Sioris, Deputy Director, Public Relations | Email | Office: 212-880-9136 

Women for Women

  • Overview: Women for Women International is raising awareness for the challenges facing Syrian refugees, particularly women and widows who are raising families alone. We are drawing attention to the need to invest in not just asylum, but in economic opportunities for refugees in the camps and communities where they reside as a way to help them find stability.  

  • Media Contact:  Amber Khan, Senior Director of Communications | Email | Office: 202-521-9607  

World Vision

  • Overview: World Vision provides aid to refugees and host communities in Lebanon and Jordan, distributing personal and household supplies and providing clean water and sanitation. World Vision is also working in northern Syria, providing critical food aid, hygiene support, health assistance and water and sanitation. Displaced Iraqis in the Kurdish northern region benefit from World Vision food aid, health services and children’s programming.

  • Media Contact : Laura Blank, APR, Public Relations Director | Email |  Twitter: @LauraCBlank and @WorldVisionNews

Zakat Foundation of America

  • Overview: Zakat Foundation of America (ZF) has been heavily involved in relief efforts for the Syrian refugee crisis since its beginning in 2011, providing emergency supplies like food, clean water, clothes, and medical assistance in Syria and the surrounding countries. Beyond these efforts ZF is developing long-term solutions for the displaced population, including the sponsorship of schools specifically for Syrian children in southern Turkey. 

  • Media Contact : Jamie Merchant, Public Relations Coordinator | Email | Phone: 708-487-6616

InterAction Experts Available

In addition, the following InterAction experts are available for comment, questions and analysis on the NGO community's response to the crisis in Syria. For interview requests please contact InterAction's Burt Edwards at 202.552.6554 (office), 703.861.8237(cell) or

Sam Worthington – NGO Response

Sam Worthington is president and CEO of InterAction. Worthington has represented U.S. NGOs and their programs before the United States Congress, the administration, and numerous major national and international media. Previously, Worthington served as Chief Executive Officer of Plan USA (1994-2006), a global child-focused development NGO.

Joel Charny – Humanitarian Response

Joel Charny is vice president for humanitarian policy and practice at InterAction and is responsible for leading its work on humanitarian response, which involves engaging with the U.S. government, the United Nations, and member non-governmental organizations on both practical and policy matters– including funding availability, impact and effectiveness, and reform efforts in the sector.

Mark Lotwis – U.S. Government Policy

Mark Lotwis is vice president for policy & government relations at InterAction. Lotwis has led InterAction’s public policy team since 2011, working with the senior leadership of InterAction's members to shape U.S. government policy on humanitarian relief and long-term development issues. From 2009 to 2011, Mark served as the senior director of campaign advocacy at the Save Darfur Coalition.

Julien Schopp – Humanitarian Response and Resettlement

Julien Schopp is the Director of Humanitarian Practice at InterAction. In this capacity, he supports humanitarian emergency responses and contributes to the improvement of humanitarian practice on behalf of the network’s members. Before joining InterAction, Schopp worked as a Senior Policy Officer for the International Council of Voluntary Agencies, focusing on Forced Displacement issues.