In September 2015, with the support of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P), Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Canada, and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association Canada (CNEWA), a joint fundraising campaign was launched, aimed at involving all the Church in Canada in order to assist Syrian refugees seeking shelter and protection in the Middle East and parts of Europe. To date, the joint campaign has raised more than $3.5 million. On January 7, 2016, the Minister for International Development and La Francophonie, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced that the federal government's period for matching donations toward Syrian emergency assistance has been extended until February 29, 2016.
Development and Peace – Caritas Canada has collected $2.2M in eligible donations for the Syrian Emergency Relief Fund. The organization is implementing humanitarian aid projects (including medical support and distribution of winter supplies, basic household items, food vouchers, housing assistance, and educational activities for children) and supporting local peace initiatives that have assisted over 600,000 Syrians. Development and Peace mainly intervenes in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, working in collaboration with local partner organizations, especially the region's Caritas organizations and the Jesuit Refugee Service. "The Syrian people have suffered so much over these past five years. As the nation becomes ever more mired in crisis, the civilian population is suffering horrendous violence on a daily basis. Canadians' acts of solidarity are needed more than ever, both to provide assistance and to call for a peaceful solution to the conflict. We hope that Canadians will continue to show their solidarity towards the approximately 4.3 million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries and the millions of others still in Syria," said David Leduc, Executive Director of Development and Peace – Caritas Canada.
ACN has raised $415,305 to date. Projects supported by ACN in Syria allow displaced refugees the ability to pay for housing, supplies for infants, and winter clothing. There are also reconstruction projects in the cities of Yabroud and Homs, as some Christians have chosen to return to their regions. According to Marie-Claude Lalonde, National Director of ACN Canada, the Church stands by Christians who choose to reinvest in the land Christians have inhabited since the beginning of Christianity, despite the ongoing war".
CNEWA Canada received approximately $890,715 in donations divided into four main categories to help those in need in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. "The funds raised will provide emergency supplies, such as necessities for babies, food, water, heaters, clothing and blankets," said Carl Hétu, Canadian National Director. "The donations will also help with education as children have often missed up to three years of schooling; healthcare to assist with conditions such as depression, cancer, stroke, heart issues and diabetes, along with spiritual support such as catechetical programs for Christian families."
This joint fundraising campaign is part of a continuing effort by Canadian Catholic emergency and development agencies. As of March 2015, CCOPD had contributed $13 million to projects for Syria, including funds from the what was then the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, while ACN worldwide had raised $8,675,000 for Syrians in need. In 2014, CNEWA (Canada and USA) sent US $4,441,665 to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon and displaced persons in Syria. Currently, many Catholic parishes in Canada are focusing their fundraising efforts to assist in the settlement of Syrian refugees in communities across the country.
The Church commitment to victims of the conflict
According to the report presented at the Conference of donor countries, in London, England, on February 4, 2016, the Catholic Church has been mobilized from the beginning of the crisis through the Pontifical Council Cor Unum and its charity network. In his intervention, the Most Reverend Paul Richard Gallagher, the Holy See's Secretary for the Relations with States, affirmed that in 2015, the Church provided humanitarian assistance of $150 million to 4 million people, without ethnic or denominational distinction. He also noted that financial assistance would be increasingly necessary to assist refugees and the communities receiving them in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt.
Individual donations made until February 29th to Development and Peace for its Syria Emergency Relief Fund are eligible to be matched by the Canadian government. Donations can be made at devp.org; by phone at 1-888-234-8533; also by sending a cheque made out to Development and Peace (please indicate Syria Crisis) to 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd. W., 3rd Floor, Montreal, QC, H3G 1T7. You can also sign our petition calling on the Government of Canada to protect civilians in Syria and to end the conflict by diplomatic means.
Syrian refugee in a camp (Lebanon).