Published March 7, 2014
ATLANTA—As civil war intensifies in Syria, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services have issued an alert calling on American leaders to work to help stop the violence and increase humanitarian aid.
Chandreyee Banerjee of Catholic Relief Services in the Middle East spoke at a Feb. 19 program at Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta. The program was co-hosted by the Neshama Interfaith Center.
Banerjee said when contacting legislators, urge them to work for “unfettered humanitarian access” to Syria.
The Catholics Confront Global Poverty Action Alert asks U.S. leaders to exhaust every option to end the violence, and support a solution that builds inclusive democracy in Syria, support funding for the crisis and appropriations, and ensure access to aid with impartiality in Syria.
Nearly 7 million people have been affected by the conflict, needing the basics of water, food, shelter and medical care. The United Nations anticipates more than 10 million people will be displaced by the end of 2014.
Those who fled violence were working people with “good jobs to go to,” noted Banerjee. “They were completely blindsided.”
In the tent settlements in the neighboring countries, it can be very cold at this time of year. CRS and partners in those countries provide necessities such as hygiene kits and psychosocial support, particularly vital to the children who have been traumatized by witnessing and experiencing violence.
“Preservation of that dignity is a primary value,” said Cullen Larson, CRS Southeast regional director.
To learn more about how to send letters in support of Syrian refugees to President Obama or members of Congress, visit www.confrontglobalpoverty.org and read the “Current Action Alerts.”
To make a contribution to the work of CRS or to learn more, go to http://crs.org/syria/.
According to CRS, more than 75 percent of the refugees are women, children and the elderly.
At the Ignatius House program, those in attendance prayed for the families who have fled their native Syria with Jesuit Father Bruce Maivelett reading a psalm for refugees.