Comfort in crisis: An update on Syria
19 Jun 2016 | Blog | Emergency Relief | Middle East
According to the UN, the Syrian crisis is the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II. And the numbers show this.
Since the conflict began, 12.2 million people of a population of 22.8 million have been forced to leave their homes, and at least 4 million people have fled the country. Lebanon’s population of 4.4 million has swelled by 1.1 million Syrian refugees.
Syrians are living in conditions as deeply disturbing as these numbers. Most now live in poverty, in makeshift shelters, with little access to life’s necessities of water, long-term housing, hygiene, food, income, and education.
The Caritas commitment
Caritas Australia has been deeply committed, in these five years, to supporting our sisters and brothers living in vulnerable circumstances in Syria, and as refugees in other countries.
The global Caritas network has collectively made a difference to millions of Syrians - 1.8 million in 2015 alone. Caritas Australia’s role includes sourcing funding from the Australian Government and our generous supporters to help the local Caritas agencies in Middle East countries deliver their programs.
We are making a difference to refugee families through immediate relief, providing people in crisis with food aid, shelter, health services, trauma counselling, and making temporary homes suitable for the winter. Syrian families I spoke to told me that this support has made a huge difference in their life.Suzy McIntyre, Humanitarian Program Coordinator, Global Programs, Caritas Australia
We are supporting our partners in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan through both short-term and long-term programs. Some programs focus on emergency assistance, providing refugee families with food, water, sanitation and hygiene, shelter, and non-food items (such as blankets, clothing, hygiene kits and heaters). Other programs we support meet longer term needs, by offering healthcare, including psychosocial and mental health support, as well as educational and social services, and protection for vulnerable refugees.
In Lebanon, we partner with Caritas Lebanon to support Syrian refugees, vulnerable Lebanese families and Iraqi refugees through funding for water, sanitation and hygiene programs; and for health, education, shelter, protection, and psychosocial support services, including support for survivors of sexual or gender-based violence. More than 200,000 people have benefited.
In Jordan, our support for Syria and vulnerable Jordanian families has included medical programs such as mother and child healthcare and counselling. Funding from the Australian Government through the HPA will enable us to support our Caritas partners in Jordan to continue to provide children, who have fled the atrocities in Syria, with access to educational opportunities, including transport and meals, remedial assistance to catch up on missed schooling and counselling services.
Hopes for the future
Suzy McIntyre welcomes the fact that “the focus is moving into longer term programs like education and protection.”
She notes, “When I meet a Syrian family, I always ask them what their hopes are for the future, and the woman always says, ‘A good education and good outcomes for my children.’”
With the crisis now passed the five-year mark, Caritas Australia reaffirms our ongoing support for our vulnerable Syrian sisters and brothers.
We thank the Australian Government and our generous supporters for enabling us to continue our humanitarian response work. Donating to Caritas Australia’s Middle East Crisis Appeal will help us continue to assist people impacted by the Syrian crisis.
Read more about this story in CaritasNews Winter 2016
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