by Pierre Loup de Raucourt
– at the headquarters of Caritas International in the Vatican, a
meeting of Caritas Middle East was held on September 15-17, 2014,
updating on the geopolitical and demographic situation, and the needs
and actions already underway to assist the recovery conflict-affected
populations. Various officials openly admit that they are overwhelmed.
More hot news topics were discussed: the displacement of millions of
Syrian refugees, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the advancement of
the Islamic state, with all its consequences on Christians. The official
report of Michel Roy, General Secretary of Caritas International, is
uncompromising: “The Middle East is in turmoil and Caritas
is overwhelmed by the increasing needs, while resources shrink … We
cannot accept that millions of people, entire societies, who once
cohabited in peace, be destroyed.”
The crisis meeting, therefore, had as its objective to always search for “the best possible
answer to be given, in the months and years ahead, to the tragedy, and
how to collaborate with other outside organizations as well as Catholic
Church organizations, to promote peace and stability in the region”. Caritas representatives at the meeting came from Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Jerusalem, Lebanon and Iraq.
Over the past decade, Caritas Middle East has aided almost one
million people by providing shelter, food, basic necessities,
psychological assistance and all that can help a population physically
and morally scarred by war, displacement and loss. Far from being
finished, the work still requires years of energy to continue the work.
The directors of Caritas groan under the weight of the task and do not
seem to see light at the end of the tunnel.
“Peace must come from within”
By providing assistance to the population, the clear objective is to
work towards building a sustainable peace. Therefore the important role
of local Caritas organizations is that those who work in the region are
of the same nationality or the same culture as those to whom they
provide assistance. They are more aware of the problems and better able
to discern the appropriate needs, and so it is through them that peace
can be found, from within and not from outside. Cardinal Maradiaga,
president of Caritas International, stressed in particular that “Peace
in the Middle East must be based on justice for all peoples. It should
not be imposed from outside, but must come from within.”
However, in a region enflamed by wars for many years, the hope of
seeing the emergence of peace from within is quite low at this time. It
also depends on the capacity of countries selling arms to stop sales to
the Middle East. Pope Francis also stated this on the occasion of
commemorating the centenary of the First World War, “War is never
necessary nor inevitable … You can always find an alternative: the path
of dialogue, meeting and the honest search for truth.” It is
furthermore a requirement for an already overstretched Caritas to put
all its remaining energies in the service of achieving peace.
We seek to keep you literally "updated" on movement in terms of truth and justice in the Middle East in general with a particular eye on Palestine. The links below will take you to various articles and websites that offer the perspective of leaders in the religious, NGO, and human rights communities. Additionally, Al-Bushra, ever vigilant, provides links to regular reporting as well as opinion pieces by journalists. The dates given here indicate when the link was posted; the most recent posting is at the top. Check the article itself for the date the information was released by the source.