Vatican City, 23 October 2013 (VIS) – 72 million dollars assigned to Catholic humanitarian organisations to alleviate the crisis in Syria and the surrounding regions; 55 entities working in the field; urgent aid given to 20 Syrian cities and 32 Catholic institutions involved so far, and indispensable aid for the refugees present in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Cyprus and Egypt. These are the data recorded on 9 October, as a result of the mapping of aid distributed in Syria, carried out following the meeting for the co-ordination of Catholic charitable associations present in the Syrian situation, convened by the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” from 4 to 5 June 2013.
The Catholic Church and the local churches in the zone have been involved since the beginning of the crisis, in 2011, in the constant work of providing humanitarian aid to the population struck by the civil war in Syria. Pope Francis has paid particular attention to the evolution of the crisis and the aid work offered by charitable agencies, whom he received in audience during a meeting organised by the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”. “Helping the Syrian population, regardless of ethnic origin or religious belief”, said the Pope on that occasion, “is the most direct way of contributing to the pacification and edification of a society open to all its components”.
Until now, the difficulty of obtaining information regarding the needs of the population affected and the development of the political and social population has led to the sometimes sporadic nature of the aid given, and to a multiplicity of forms of support to to the institutions present in the field. Therefore, the meeting in June provided an opportunity to reunite the agencies active in the context of the crisis and to decide upon the establishment of an office for co-ordinating information on the humanitarian aid allocated by the Catholic Church, with the aim of avoiding the dispersal of efforts and ensuring a homogeneous approach. Management activity was entrusted to Caritas Middle East-North Africa, based in Beirut; it will have the task of appraising and monitoring the extent of the aid gathered, and of sharing necessary information with all the institutions involved, including those not present at the “Cor Unum” meeting.
This tool will allow the Church to obtain a complete picture of humanitarian aid efforts, with the intention of providing a detailed analysis of the needs in the field; to transfer to Caritas Syria the information necessary on charitable works in aid of the Syrian population; to highlight the profile of the Catholic Church among those involved in the humanitarian sector in Syria, and to share information within the network of Catholic organisations involved, both inside and outside Syrian territory.