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An iInternally displaced family in Maaral al-Numan, Syria An iInternally displaced family in Maaral al-Numan, Syria  (ANSA)

Vatican convenes meeting on Syrian and Iraqi humanitarian crisis

Catholic relief agencies and NGOs discuss humanitarian concerns and priorities for Syria and Iraq in an online meeting convened by the Vatican.

By Vatican News staff writer

On Thursday 10 December a meeting organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development will focus on the humanitarian crises that continue to unfold in Syria and Iraq.

It will enable the heads of some 50 Catholic aid organizations and NGOs to engage with representatives of local episcopates and ecclesial institutions and religious congregations operating in the two suffering middle eastern nations and in neighbouring countries.

Participants will discuss the most urgent needs and priorities for the region and coordinate assistance and the presence of aid workers on the ground.

The meeting, which will be held online, also has the support of the Apostolic Nuncios of the area.

Amongst the participants is Aloysius John, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis. He told Vatican Radio the meeting also provides the occasion to shine the light on the dire conditions in which Christians in Syria and Iraq find themselves.

Listen to Aloysius John

Aloysius John said the meeting is important for a series of reasons. It is an occasion to be able to give witness “to the dire conditions in which Christian populations in the Middle East” are living..

But beyond that, it will also shine the light on the difficult situation of all the people, including the Muslims, who live in Syria and Iraq. In fact, many Syrians, he said, not only live in “inhumane conditions”, they also live in fear.

He pointed out that the meeting comes at the beginning of winter, a crucial time for those living in precarious situations and in poverty.

It is also a moment, John said, to make it known that the sanctions in Syria are not the right solution as they are putting the people in a very difficult “and bad” situation..

The meeting Thursday, that sees the participation of many different actors, is a much needed occasion to share information and resources and better coordinate an effective response to the crisis.

We need coordination, John stressed, " in order to help effectively and efficiently, and leave no one alone."

In this time that is also impacted by the difficulties caused by Covid-19, he said: “no one must be allowed to go hungry.”

Amongst those giving interventions are Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Gallagher; the Apostolic Nuncio to Syria, Cardinal Mario Zenari; representatives of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches;  United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi; Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Dignity.

09 December 2020, 17:57