Why the Syrian crisis matters to Australia

11 Mar 2015   |   Media release   |   Syria   |   Emergency Relief

Syrian refugee children

On the eve of the fourth anniversary of the conflict in Syria on 15 March, there is a desperate need for the international community to help the almost 12 million people in the country now in need of emergency aid.

President of Caritas Syria, Bishop Antoine Audo, said half of Syria’s inhabitants are now either internally displaced or are refugees. 

“Eighty percent of the workforce doesn’t work. The rich have left, the middle class has become poor and the poor have become destitute. Many people have become poor and ill because of the insecurity and the near-destruction of the economy,” Bishop Audo said.

“Last year, 2014, really was the hardest of all for those of us who live in Aleppo. The level of destruction in the city reached its peak. Rockets were raining down on us, we often didn’t have electricity or water and the nights chilled us to the bone.”

The Caritas network, which includes Caritas Australia, the Catholic church’s international aid and development agency, has contributed almost $100 million in humanitarian response programs and given hope to the most marginalised women, children and men who’ve been affected by the Syrian crisis.
 
Over the last three years, the network has responded to the needs of over a million people affected by the crisis in Syria with support including: shelter, healthcare, food, basic needs, education, protection for women and children, trauma counselling and peacebuilding.

Caritas Australia CEO, Paul O’Callaghan said the rapid influx of refugees has placed an extraordinary burden on the resources of host communities in countries like Lebanon and Jordan.

“An estimated 4 million people have fled their homes and sought refuge in neighbouring countries. In fact, Lebanon has been one of the most generous countries – it is now estimated that nearly a third of their population is Syrian refugees,” said Mr O’Callaghan. 

“The need across the region is enormous – particularly with regard to food. Humanitarian agencies like Caritas are responding to the food needs of over 4 million people within Syria and 2.5 million in neighbouring countries. We’re seeing parents reducing the number of meals eaten each day so young children can eat and families using up to 50 percent of their available money on food.”

Faith-based agencies have a record of working effectively with these communities because they have always been part of those communities themselves.

Find out more information or to donate go to the Syria crisis page on our website.

Media contact: Nicole Clements - 0408 869 833/(02) 8306 3490 or media@caritas.org.au.


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