Caritas leader: 'The whole Middle East is at stake'

Secretary-General Michel Roy of Caritas International speaks with CNA July 11, 2014. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

The secretary-general for Caritas International has voiced his concern over the lack of aid being provided to those suffering from conflicts, urging the faithful to get involved and break the “cycle of indifference.”

“It’s difficult to raise funds for the whole Middle East. For Syria there’s a lot to be done inside and outside with refugees, what is happening right now with Israel and Palestine again, will have consequences where we will have to intervene as well,” Michel Roy told CNA July 11.

“So the whole Middle East is at stake right now, and there are people dying of hunger, or malnourished among the people in Syria that are not reachable by the humanitarian organizations.”

“This is tragic for all to see that the world is not able to help those people, those nations come to an end with their conflicts,” he lamented.

Stationed in Rome, Roy is secretary-general for the international aid organization Caritas, which has correspondents in various countries around the world, including many in the Middle East.

Referring to the climbing number of displaced persons and refugees around the world due to ongoing violence in Middle Eastern countries, the charity leader stated that biggest challenge they face “is the availability of resources to come and help.”

The situation in Iraq “remains dire,” he explained, noting that although “ISIS has probably conquered what they want to conquer so things have quieted down,” the “reality of those territories remains dire, because they are not accessible” to aid.

“Most of the communities have gone away” and taken refuge in more secure cities in the Kurdish area, “so what tomorrow will be like is difficult to say.”

“Politically there is no solution, militarily people are so insecure of their future that they don’t dare go back, so the problem is with how to come and help those who have taken refuge in neighboring provinces.”

This help is increasingly difficult to give considering the “hundreds of thousands” in need, Roy observed, because you are “Providing food and water and shelter,” but “multiplied by a big number.”

“This was not planned, nobody thought that this would happen,” he continued, explaining that “At the U.N. level the monies available are quite insufficient globally for this new crisis. Globally there is a complete lack of funding for most crisis.”

Referring to the 4 million Syrians who have fled to neighboring countries for refuge, with 2 million in Lebanon alone, the charity leader stated that he is faced with questions such as “Can we go on with 2 million Syrians” in Lebanon in addition to their own 4 million, and “is Lebanon going to be taken into this war more than it is now?”

He also drew attention to increasing tensions between Israel and Palestine, stating that “What is happening in Gaza and Israel right now is horrible.”

“We should not come to that situation, and we don’t know when it’s going to end, but it’s going to be a lot of people killed and distressed.”

Speaking of the Vatican campaign “PAUSEforPeace” launched by the Pontifical Council for Culture July 10 that advocates a moment of silence for those affected by war during Sunday’s final game of the World Cup, Roy voiced that “This is a very good initiative.”

“Faith leaders have to come in and let their voice be heard, because they bring the way forward. We know that war will not be solved by violence and war, it will be solved by dialogue and negotiations that bring peace.”

Referring to Pope Francis’ frequent call for solidarity with those who suffer, Roy explained that “We have to engage, we cannot be indifferent. Pope Francis is calling us to break this cycle of indifference.”

“We live a nice life in many places, but we must not forget what is happening around,” he said.

“There are brothers and sisters we must take care of through various ways; prayer, material support and political engagement so that solutions can be found.”


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