The work will continue in the John Paul II Auditorium at the Pontifical Urban University. Following introductions by Monsignor Giampietro Dal Toso, Secretary of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, there will be a speech by Steffan de Mistura, Special representative of the UN for Syria; a presentation of the Second Survey of the response of the Church network to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq and Syria (2015-2016), carried out by Cor Unum; and a speech by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
In the afternoon, following the updates concerning the political and humanitarian situations provided by His Excellency, Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Syria; and His Excellency, Alberto Ortega, Apostolic Nuncio in Iraq, the participants will meet in work groups and focus on concrete aspects of collaboration between the various parties involved in the Middle East.
Objectives of this meeting, continuing the path undertaken in the four previous years, are to review the status of the work that has been done to present by Catholic charitable organizations in the context of the crisis, sharing the Church's answers to the humanitarian crisis; discussing emerging critical issues and identifying priorities for the future; analyzing situations facing the Christian communities living in countries affected by war, promoting synergy between dioceses, Religious Congregations and ecclesial organizations.
The conflict in Syria and Iraq has produced one of the most serious humanitarian crises in recent decades and is the focus of international attention. The Holy see, in addition to diplomatic activity, participates actively in aid programs and humanitarian assistance. During the period from 2015 to 2016, the ecclesial network together has reached more than 9 million individual benefactors, mobilizing approximately 207 million dollars (during 2015) and 196 million dollars (from January to July 2016). Since 2011, the crisis has caused more than 300,000 deaths and left 1 million wounded. At present, there are more than 13.5 million people in need of help in Syria as well as more than 10 million in Iraq; 8.7 million people are displaced within Syria and more than 3.4 million more in Iraq, while there are 4.8 million Syrian refugees spread throughout various regions of the Middle East, especially in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.