US$ 72 million allocated by Catholic humanitarian organizations to the crisis in Syria and neighbouring regions; 55 agencies operating on-field; 20 Syrian cities assisted thanks to the aid sent and 32 Catholic agencies involved so far; aid dispensed equally to refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Cyprus, Egypt. These are the figures put together on 9th October thanks to the mapping of the aid distributed to date in Syria, verified following the meeting coordinating the activities carried out by the Catholic charitable organizations working on the Syrian scene, promoted by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum on 4-5 June 2013.
The Catholic Church and the local churches in the area have been involved ever since the beginning of the crisis in 2011, working to provide constant humanitarian assistance to the people affected by the dramatic internal war in Syria. Pope Francis has followed the evolution of the crisis with particular closeness and attention, as well as the work carried out by charitable agencies, which He received in audience on occasion of the meeting organized by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. "Assisting the Syrian population, without regard for ethnic or religious affiliation, said Pope Francis on that occasion - is the most direct way to contribute to peace and to the up-building of a society open and welcoming to all of its different constituent parts”.
So far, the difficulty in obtaining information regarding the needs of the affected population and also as regards the development of the political and social situation, has led to a certain inconsistency in the assistance provided, as well as to fostering an extremely wide variety of forms of support to the agencies operating on the field. For this reason, the June meeting was an opportunity to bring together organizations active in the context of the crisis and to decide on the creation of an office for the coordination of information on the humanitarian aid allocated by the Catholic Church, with the scope of avoiding the dispersion of efforts and lack of a consistent approach. The management of this office has been entrusted to Caritas Middle East and North Africa, based in Beirut: it will have the task of realizing and monitoring the extent of the assistance received, and to share information among all institutions involved, including those not present at last year’s June meeting held at the offices of Cor Unum.
This tool will provide the Church with an accurate picture of the situation as regards humanitarian assistance as well as a more precise analysis of the needs on the field; it will also allow: transmitting to Caritas Syria the necessary information on charitable works underway in favour of the Syrian population; to highlight the prominent position of the Catholic Church among the actors in the humanitarian field in Syria; to share information within the network of Catholic organizations involved, inside and outside the Syrian territory.
Bollettino della Sala Stampa della Santa Sede N. 0685, 23.10.2013