Cor Unum to Gather Aid Agencies to Analyze Priorities of Crisis in Syria, Iraq

Meeting to Promote Synergy in Responding to Needs of 20M People

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The Pontifical Council Cor Unum will gather Catholic charity organizations working in the Middle East and bishops of the region for a meeting Thursday on the humanitarian crisis in Syria and Iraq.

The Pontifical Council Cor Unum is the dicastery that oversees the Church’s charitable activities around the world.

The meeting, supported by more than 30 organisations, will be divided into two parts. During the morning, after the introduction by Monsignor 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 organizations, 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 more than 250,000 victims and has caused a million injuries. 

There are currently more than 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 600,000 in Jordan.

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