DATA ON HUMANITARIAN AID BY
CATHOLIC ENTITIES OPERATING IN THE CONTEXT OF THE
IRAQI-SYRIAN CRISIS 2014-2015
(September 17, 2015)
The Iraqi-Syrian crisis is one of the most serious crisis in decades.
The recent United Nations’ data (OCHA, UNHCR, September 2015) show the
dramatic humanitarian situation: more than 200.000 people have been
killed and over 1 million injured since the beginning of the Syrian
conflict in 2011; 12.2 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian
assistance in Syria, 8.6 million in Iraq; there are 7.6 million of
internally displaced people by violence in Syria, 3.2 million in Iraq;
4.1 million people have fled Syria since 2011, and are actually refugees
in Turkey (1.9M), Lebanon (1.1M), Jordan (more than 600.000 people).
In October 2014, in collaboration with several Catholic charities
working in the context of the crisis in Syria and in Iraq, a decision
was made to establish a service of Catholic aid agencies Information
Focal Point for the Iraqi-Syrian Humanitarian Crisis based at the
Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”. One of the main objectives of this
service was to conduct an annual survey, in order to acquire an overview
of the humanitarian assistance offered by Catholic entities in
2014-2015, as well as to identify main needs, challenges, common
elements for reflection, and priorities for future action.
The survey covered 7 countries (Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey,
Egypt and Cyprus) and includes quantitative and qualitative data on the
humanitarian aid offered in 2014 and the provisional data for 2015,
provided by 55 Catholic entities: 30 Catholic aid agencies, 10 Religious
institutes and 15 dioceses of Syria and Iraq.
The survey highlights two crosscutting elements within the activities of
Church entities. The first one is the widespread nature of action:
geographically, the interventions have a very wide territorial extension,
covering almost all the areas of the crisis and/or areas with presence
of displaced persons and refugees in several countries of the region.
The assistance also reaches areas of difficult access and great risk in
the countries in conflict. There are many different actors who, each in
their own specific field, act directly on the ground or through local
institutions, employing qualified personnel and involving a large number
of volunteers. According to data provided by the organizations involved
in the survey, there are more than 2000 professionals and 5000
volunteers involved in humanitarian assistance. To these, we must add
the volunteers, priests, men and women religious, who work on a daily
basis with the dioceses and religious communities. The second element is
the multi-sectoral dimension of the interventions: the Church entities’
actions cover multiple sectors and they occur through multi-sectoral
programs that respond to the needs of individuals on a holistic basis.
In 2014, Church entities have mobilized more than USD 126 million for
the humanitarian intervention in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey,
Egypt and Cyprus. The data collected indicate a number of direct
beneficiaries served exceeding 4 million. The Church, even if under
stress, offers humanitarian assistance without any discrimination to the
affected people, according to the identified needs.
The priority sectors of intervention were: food aid (around USD 30
million, 23% of the funds invested); non-food items (more than USD 24
million, 19% of the funds);
education (around USD 23 million, 18% of the funds available);
healthcare (around USD 20 million, 16% of the funds allocated);
shelter/rent assistance (more than USD 8 million, 7% of the funds
In 2015 (provisional data, updated to May 2015), the Church entities
have mobilized more than USD 150 million to support a reported number of
more than 4 million direct beneficiaries (underestimated data because
some Catholic charities did not report the number of beneficiaries of
ongoing programs) .
The priority sectors of intervention are: education (more than USD 37
million, 25% of the allocated funds); food aid (more than USD 30 million
total, 20% of the available funds);
non-food items (about USD 25 million, 17% of the funds);
healthcare (about USD 16 million, 10% of the allocated funds);
shelter/rent assistance (more than USD 10 million, 7% of the funds).
Based on the assessments made by the Catholic entities involved in the
survey, the sectors of intervention judged insufficiently covered in
2014 - all seven countries included - were: education, livelihoods,
psychological and social support, shelter/rent assistance.
Among the priority sectors identified to strengthen the future
humanitarian response, the Catholic entities implicated in the survey
highlighted: education, psychological and social support to children and
families; healthcare; food aid; shelter/rent assistance; livelihood. A
special focus is recommended for peace building activities, to be
integrated in education programs, activities for children and in the
internally displaced people and refugees’ camps.
The survey also highlights further elements of reflection:
- In spite of the specificities of the situations in Iraq and in Syria,
the crises in Syria and Iraq developed in a convergent rather than
parallel way and they show several common characteristics; for that
reason this crisis can be considered as a unified crisis;
- The concern for the Christian communities and all the minorities
affected and persecuted and the importance to intervene according to
their specific needs;
- The key role of the Religious institutes, committed in the pastoral as
well as in the humanitarian activities in a such complex context;
- The importance that Church entities - which base their work on the
centrality, dignity and integral development of the human being – recall
in a systematic and effective way the attention of the public opinion
and the international community on the humanitarian situation in the
most affected countries and the conditions of the people living every
day in a precarious situation;
- The need to continue to call upon the political forces and the world
powers to take responsibility towards a peaceful solution to the
conflict and to continue to denounce all forms of injustice and violence.