Meeting of his Holiness and Dr. Michael Thio, at the Cor Unum Council 13 June 2013 .
On 5 and 6 June 2013, the Holy Father convened the Pontifical Council Cor Unum to analyse the situation in Syria.
Since March 2011, the churches there have been regularly caring for around 400,000 people, including refugees, displaced persons and exiles, in Syria and throughout the Middle East, and have jointly committed some 15 million euros to this work. This was explained by Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", the dicastery of the Roman Curia which coordinates and organizes humanitarian action and the charitable work of the Pope, when introducing the document "Welcoming Christ in Refugees and Forcibly Displaced Persons", produced by "Cor Unum" and the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (chaired by Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò).
The President of the Council General of the SSVP Dr. Michael Thio attended the meeting, which took place at the Vatican and was attended by all the charitable organisations presently operating in Syria, Egypt, Iraq and throughout the Middle East. A request was made at this meeting for greater "support from the international community" for countries that accept refugees, and a "truce, or at least a ceasefire".
The Syrian conflict is causing a continuous flow of refugees into Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and other countries. It was also stated that there are around 7 million people needing humanitarian support, over 4.5 million internally displaced, and ever more people seeking a little safety beyond the borders. Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq have already welcomed over 2 million Syrians.
"A more careful study of needs in the field" as explained in the concluding statement from the meeting of charitable organisations, "has shown that as time goes by, and as summer comes, the risks of epidemics are increasing, with lack of medication and help for the affected population, especially for pregnant women and children, the elderly and disabled. The humanitarian situation, "is alarming and will get worse if no way is found to ensure respect for human rights in general, and in particular, safe humanitarian access for aid, and especially if no truce can be agreed, or at least a ceasefire".