The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development organises a meeting on the Syrian and Iraqi humanitarian crisis, which will take place on 13-14 September at the John Paul II Auditorium of the Pontifical Urbanian University. The meeting is attended by more than 50 Catholic charities organisations, representatives of local episcopates and ecclesial institutions and religious congregations operating in Syria, Iraq and neighboring countries, as well as the Apostolic Nuncios in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey.
The works will be introduced by Msgr. Segundo Tejado Muñoz, Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. H. Em. Card. Peter K.A. Turkson, Prefect of the same Dicastery, will give the opening speech. followed by the presentation of the Report of the Survey on the response of Church Institutions to the Iraqi and Syrian humanitarian crisis 2017-2018, produced by the Dicastery. The intervention of the Secretary of State, Card. Pietro Parolin, and the updates on the political and humanitarian situation by the Apostolic Nuncio to Syria, Card. Mario Zenari, and the Apostolic Nuncio to Iraq and Jordan, H.E. Mons. Alberto Ortega Martín, will then follow. The day will end with a report by Dr. Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who will speak, in particular, on the challenges and prospectives of the current migration situation in the crisis area.
On Friday 14 September, an Audience with the Holy Father is scheduled at the Apostolic Palace.
The aim of the meeting, in continuity with the path taken in the last six years, is to propose a moment of reflection and fraternal communion between all the ecclesial institutions involved in works of charity and assistance to the people affected by this humanitarian crisis, on which the Holy Father has repeatedly drawn the attention of public opinion; to take stock of the work done so far by Catholic charitable organizations in the context of the crisis, sharing information on the evolution of the humanitarian situation and the responses of the Church; to discuss the critical issues that have emerged and identify priorities for the future; to analyze the situation of Christian communities living in countries affected by the war, promoting synergy between ecclesial organizations, religious congregations and dioceses. This year, special attention will be paid to the realistic prospects of a voluntary return of internally displaced persons and refugees to their communities of origin.
The conflict in Syria and Iraq has produced one of the most serious humanitarian crises of recent decades. The Holy See, in addition to its diplomatic activities, actively participates in programmes of humanitarian aid and assistance. Since 2014, the ecclesial network has allocated more than $1 billion to emergency response, reaching more than 4 million individual beneficiaries per year. According to UN sources, there are currently more than 13 million people in need of aid in Syria and almost 9 million in Iraq; there are more than 6 million internally displaced persons in Syria and 2 million in Iraq, while 5.6 million are Syrian refugees registered in neighbouring countries, including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. Voluntary returns to Iraq would currently amount to 3.9 million people.