In 2016, your generous donations to Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) — more than $2.8 million — helped Syrian families devastated by the civil war, and those stranded in Jordan and Lebanon. About $951,000 came from Canadian donors who responded to the Canadian Catholic bishops’ appeal to support Syria through the government’s matching campaign.
Thanks to you, we have been able to reach out to thousands of refugees and have been able to respond swiftly to the humanitarian crisis from CNEWA’s offices in Lebanon and Jordan. Also, CNEWA pays special attention to the fragile Christian community of Syria, which on top of being victims of war are also persecuted because of their faith.
The civil war in Syria, now in its sixth year, continues to cause enormous suffering. During 2016, we refocused our priorities. Because the violence continues relentlessly and the refugees might not return home anytime soon, we turned our attention to providing them stability in this time of crisis. Now a larger share of your donations is going to education, health care and spiritual care on top of emergency relief.
Newly uprooted families and those in extreme poverty still require emergency assistance for their basic needs. Last year, you helped deliver this critical aid — including milk, food, blankets and clothing — to 7,023 families and 1,264 children. Families outside of Syria also received hygiene supplies, mattresses, tents and heating fuel.
Without education, the children of Syria have no future. Yet millions of them are now out of school. And even when schools are available for them, many obstacles can prevent them from going. We cannot let another child slip through the cracks. During 2016, you provided essential school supplies and clothing to 6,290 refugee children in Syria. 830 young Syrians in Lebanon benefited from tutoring and French lessons, enabling them to thrive in the country’s Frenchlanguage schools. You also helped 724 refugee women in Jordan and Lebanon learn how to provide a brighter future for their families through vocational training.
Many Syrians are victims of violence. Others have medical problems that can no longer be ignored. Some are unable to find health care because the local hospitals are simply overwhelmed. The crisis is taking a terrible toll on the health of all Syrians, but your contributions last year delivered lifesaving care to 6,382 Syrian medical patients.
For Christians from Syria, faith is a powerful antidote to the suffering that surrounds them. In the darkest moments, God offers mercy and hope. This is why, even in the midst of war, it is vital to support pastoral care. During 2016, nearly 5,000 Christian youths in Syria participated
in spiritual retreats sponsored by CNEWA. In Lebanon, 590 Syrian mothers and their children received pastoral counseling and spiritual support to help heal the trauma they have endured.
Partnering with Local Churches
Aid from CNEWA is delivered entirely through our partners in the Eastern Catholic churches. Local bishops, priests and religious sisters make possible everything we do. In Syria, we work with the Besancon and Good Shepherd Sisters, Marist Brothers and St. Vincent de Paul Society. The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, the Joint Christian Committee and the Karagheusian Foundation are some of our partners in Lebanon. In Jordan, we work with the Comboni Sisters, the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, the Don Orion Fathers and the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena.
The Road Ahead
Although the Syrian government won significant military victories in 2016, twothirds of Syria remains contested and the civil war is far from over. As the crisis persists, Syrians are exhausting whatever meager resources they have left.
The present level of international aid is simply not enough to meet their urgent needs. CNEWA Canada therefore must redouble our efforts in the face of the greatest human disaster of our age.