Vatican City, 14 September 2015 (VIS) – The Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” has organised a meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Syria and Iraq to be held on 17 September, which will be attended in particular by the Catholic charitable organisations active in the Middle East and the bishops of the region.
The meeting, supported by more than 30 organisations, will be divided into two parts. During the morning, after the introduction by Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council, there will be addresses from Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, and the United Nations under-secretary general for Humanitarian Affairs. There will then be a presentation of the report on humanitarian aid provided by ecclesial entities in the context of the crisis in Syria and Iraq (2014-2015), prepared by “Cor Unum”.
In the afternoon, following the presentation by Msgr. Khaled Akasheh, director of the Office for Islam of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and updates from the local Churches by Archbishop Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio in Syria, Bishop Antoine Audo, president of Caritas Syria and Bishop Shlemon Warduni, president of Caritas Iraq, the meeting will focus on concrete aspects of cooperation between the various actors in Syria, Iraq and the neighbouring countries.
The aim of the meeting, following the itinerary adopted during the last three years, will be to evaluate the work carried out so far by Catholic charitable organisations in the context of the crisis; to share information on the evolution of the crisis and the Church's responses to the humanitarian situation; to discuss key issues that have emerged and to identify future priorities; to analyse the situation of Christian communities resident in the countries affected by war, promoting synergy between ecclesial organisms, religious congregations and dioceses; and to analyse the activity of the “Humanitarian Focal Point”, instituted by Catholic charitable agencies within “Cor Unum” last year.
The crisis in Syria and Iraq is at the centre of the attention of the international community due to the seriousness of the situation caused by war. The Holy See, aside from its diplomatic activity, participates actively in aid programmes and in offering humanitarian assistance. Since 2011, according to available data, the crisis has claimed over 250 thousand victims and has caused a million injuries. There are currently over 12 million people in need of aid in Syria and more than eight million in Iraq; there are 7.6 million internally displaced people in Syria and more than three million in Iraq, and four million Syrian refugees throughout the Middle East: in particular, there are 1.9 in Turkey, 1.1 in Lebanon, and more than 600 thousand in Jordan.