La Santa Sede Menu Ricerca
La Curia Romana  




Coordination meeting of Catholic charitable organisations
active in the crisis of Syria
convened by Cor Unum
(June 4-5, 2013)


     Pope Francis has renewed his strong appeal for peace in Syria, where there is currently one of the mostly deadly armed conflicts, with one of the highest ratios of civilian casualties compared with that of the military, with the largest number of internally displaced persons and refugees. The violence and all sorts of abuse have reached untold levels, without any consideration to human dignity.

    It is worthy to recall Pope Francis’ words spoken to the participants during the audience, expressing his particular closeness to the Christian communities of the region and the entire population: “How much suffering must there be before a political solution to the crisis is found?”. “The work of the Catholic charitable agencies is extremely significant: assisting the Syrian population, without regard for ethnic or religious affiliation, is the most direct way to contribute to peace and to the upbuilding of a society open and welcoming to all of its different constituent parts.”

1. The Pontifical Council Cor Unum convened on the 4th and 5th of June a meeting of humanitarian coordination for the crisis in Syria. This encounter was attended by about 25 representatives of local churches, charitable organizations active in the area, institutional donors of the Catholic world, the Holy See and the Apostolic Nuncio in Syria. They have reaffirmed their continued commitment and renewed the Holy Father’s appeal to cease all violence and open paths of dialogue and reconciliation, in respect for all.

2. The local churches have given concrete answers to the population both in Syria and throughout the region, since the beginning of the conflict, from March 2011 until today. More than 400,000 people are assisted on a regular basis without any discrimination, with humanitarian aid, in the social, health care and educational fields, for a total of over 25 million Euros. The reports that were brought forth, the result of direct experience on site, in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and other countries where refugees continue to arrive, confirm the extent of the tragedy: there are almost 7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, more than 4.5 million internally displaced people and more people seeking safety outside the borders of the country (Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq have already welcomed more than 2 million Syrian refugees).

3. A more careful analysis of the needs in the field has shown that, with the arrival of summer, there will be an increase in the risk of epidemics, lack of medicines and assistance to the affected population, especially for pregnant women and infants, the elderly and the disabled. The overall situation of logistics, safety and humanitarian protection is disturbing and will get worse if a solution is not found to ensure respect for humanitarian law in general, and in particular, the safe humanitarian access to deliver aid and especially if a truce or at least a ceasefire is not called.

4. All this will require an even greater and more complex effort from Catholic charitable organizations. Therefore, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum makes an appeal on behalf of all the organizations present at the meeting, to financially support the efforts of humanitarian assistance and the pursuit of peace, in view of the desired reconstruction of a torn and destroyed country.

5. The international community must provide more support to countries that are receiving refugees and humanitarian operations in order to meet their growing needs. The mediation efforts of the international community, although more determined than in previous months, seem still insufficient. Thus, the risks are increasingly high that Syria would become another endless war, in which the first victims are civilians, treated as targets and often as direct and indirect victims of the ongoing violence, “a senseless slaughter” left to itself.

    The meeting was attended by representatives of the following organizations: Aid to the Church in Need International, AVSI Foundation, CAFOD, Caritas Austria, Caritas France, Caritas Germany, Caritas Internationalis, Caritas Jordan, Caritas Lebanon, Caritas Luxemburg, Caritas Middle East and North Africa (Caritas MONA), Caritas Syria, Caritas Turkey, Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), International Confederation of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and Sovereign Military Order of Malta.