La Santa Sede Menu Ricerca
La Curia Romana  



For public use


(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 invested).

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.