Thursday, 02 April 2015 08:11
Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace has plea for Prime Minister
By Deborah Gyapong
Caption: Syrian refugee children at the Mrajeeb Al Fhood refugee camp in Jordan form the word “Syria” during an event to commemorate four years of the Syrian conflict, March 15. CNS photo / Muhammad Hamed, Reuters.
The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace launched a petition March 30, urging the Prime Minister to “act for peace in Syria.”
The petition asks the Canadian government to increase aid to Syrian victims of a crisis that began in 2011.
The petition urges the government to “engage in long-term efforts for reconciliation and reconstruction” within Syria and “actively require all parties involved with the conflict respect international humanitarian law,” especially concerning the protection of civilians and their access to assistance.
It asks the government to “actively contribute to an inclusive peace process, knowing that a lasting solution to this conflict can only be a diplomatic and negotiated one, and introduce economic and political measures to put an end to the violence, such as initiatives to curtail the sources of financing and weapons of the belligerent parties.”
And finally it asks the government to “encourage the creation of a pluralistic and inclusive society” that will lead to “a free and peaceful Syria without ethnic, religious or social discrimination.”
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) not only called attention to the petition March 30, but also called attention to what CCODP and other Catholic charities are doing to help people in the region.
“It has been four years since the beginning of the civil war in Syria,” said a CCCB statement. “This humanitarian crisis now affects more than 12 million people, not counting the 3.5 million Syrian refugees who have fled mostly to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.”
CCODP has contributed $13 million towards projects in Syria, including funds from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, the CCCB said, noting its overseas development arm has directly helped 80,000 families through its Caritas network partners in Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.
The Canadian bishops also called attention to two other Catholic charities working in the region: Aid to the Church in Need Canada (ACN-Canada) and CNEWA Canada (Catholic Near East Welfare Association).
ACN announced through its New York office on March 28 it has pledged $2.8 million in emergency aid to Christians in Syria who have not been reached except to a limited extent by United Nations assistance or help from large, secular NGOs. The Catholic charity has raised more than $8,675,000 in emergency aid.
CNEWA Canada recently announced it had sent $45,000 in emergency aid to Syria’s Assyrian Church of the East that will help 900 families that fled the Islamic State when it overcame a Christian area near the Iraq border.
CNEWA helps refugees in the region through its network of churches, and helps them with housing and job programs among other activities.