Life is hard enough when you don’t know if you’ll be able feed your children tomorrow. Or where you’ll be living next month. And now millions of Syrian refugees are also facing the hardships of winter in Lebanon, Jordan and beyond. As temperatures drop, refugees in camps or elsewhere on their journeys need warm clothing and secure shelter. And it’s not just the plight of Syrian refugees. Winter is a harsh reality for displaced people all over the world.
Catholic Relief Services is witnessing the challenges of winter for people firsthand in Iraq, where military operations are underway to retake Fallujah and Mosul from ISIS control. More than 85,000 people have been displaced by the battle for Fallujah alone. The vast majority of them are living outside of the organized camps, with host families, or in makeshift or unfinished dwellings. In all, nearly 10 million people in Iraq need humanitarian assistance.
“Support is vital because winter is almost upon us. Being a displaced person in such harsh weather is very hard and we must scale up our work to deal with their needs. One advantage we have as CRS and Caritas is that the Catholic Church has been in Iraq throughout history. Despite being a minority in numbers, Catholics are still a very active and engaged population.”
In addition to food and essential household items, winter materials—including blankets, warm clothing, heaters and kerosene—are urgently needed. CRS is on the frontlines working in close partnership with the Catholic Church and our lead Catholic partner, Caritas Iraq, to support more than 150,000 displaced Iraqis. To date, we’ve provided food, living supplies and winter materials through cash and voucher assistance. Distributing cash allows families to buy what they need and helps keep the local economy going. We’ve also provided shelter upgrades for people living in unfinished buildings; and educational and psychosocial support services for thousands of children.
Supporting and advocating on behalf of refugees is just one of the many ways we answer God’s call to care for our global brothers and sisters. In addition to meeting the short-term needs of refugees throughout Europe and the Middle East, CRS is working toward new long-term solutions to the migration crisis. Join the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and CRS as we advocate for funding and policies to help refugees worldwide, including diplomatic solutions that promote peace, impartial humanitarian assistance and inclusive societies that protect the rights of all.