Vatican City, 6 June 2013 (VIS) – The Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” called a meeting, from 4-5 June, of the Catholic charitable agencies that are working to combat the crisis in Syria. Around 25 representatives of local churches, charitable agencies working in the region, institutional donors from the Catholic world, the Holy See, and the Apostolic Nunciature in Syria gathered to reaffirm the continuity of their commitment and to renew the Holy Father's appeal that all violence cease and that paths of dialogue and reconciliation, based on respect for all, be opened.
The local Churches have responded concretely to the population, both in Syria and the entire region, from the beginning of the conflict. More than 400,000 persons are regularly supported, without discrimination, by humanitarian aid to the cost of more than 25 million Euro. Testimonials confirm the extent of the tragedy: almost 7 million people who need humanitarian assistance, more than 4.5 million forcibly displaced persons, and an ever-increasing number of persons seeking security outside of the country's borders.
A more careful analysis of the needs in this area have revealed that, with the onset of summer, the risk of epidemics in the affected population—with pregnant women, children, the elderly, and the disabled in particular jeopardy—will certainly increase along with shortages of medicines and aid.
In the face of this alarming situation, the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” has launched an appeal on behalf of all the agencies involved to economically support the humanitarian efforts and the search for peace, in the hopes of rebuilding a country that has been torn and destroyed by the conflict.
The international community must also provide more support to the countries that are receiving refugees and to humanitarian operations there, in order to be able to respond to their growing needs. The international community's mediation efforts, even if more decisive in respect to previous months, still seem insufficient. Thus the risks are increasing that the conflict in Syria might become another endless war in which the first victims are defenceless civilians, who are often treated as targets in the “useless massacre” of this ongoing violence.