Caritas Australia, part of Caritas Internationalis one of the world’s largest humanitarian networks, has called for more to be done to contain the growing humanitarian crisis in Syria and neighbouring countries.
Two years of conflict in Syria has caused more than 70,000 deaths and four million people are now in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, including 2.5 million people within Syria who are now internally displaced. Just last week, the UNHCR announced that the number of Syrians registered or receiving assistance as refugees in neighbouring countries had surpassed 1 million.
The Caritas network including Caritas Lebanon, Caritas Jordan and Caritas Turkey have a long established presence in the region.
In response to the crisis, the Caritas network is providing emergency humanitarian assistance, shelter, medical care, food, water and sanitation, and psychosocial support to many Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
Caritas Australia CEO Jack de Groot said the need for humanitarian aid was growing by the day.
“Aid agencies like Caritas are struggling to keep pace with the need on the ground, ” Mr de Groot said.
“In Lebanon, our Caritas partner has been working tirelessly to provide clothing, blankets, and tarpaulins for thousands of Syrian families and individuals who have fled the fighting,” Mr de Groot said.
“But there are many tensions in these host countries and the situation for refugees is continuing to deteriorate.”
With an estimated 78 percent of refugees in Lebanon being women and children, Mr de Groot said their needs should continue to be prioritised.
“In terms of challenges, education and health assistance are among the most pressing needs, as many Syrian children are still not attending school and many Syrian elderly are suffering from chronic diseases,” Mr de Groot said.
In January 2013, Pope Benedict XVI made impassioned pleas for governments to help the people of Syria. He called for a ceasefire to the fighting stating, civil and political authorities had a “grave responsibility” to work for peace in Syria which had been “torn apart by endless slaughter and the scene of dreadful suffering among its civilian population.
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