The Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan holds roughly 115,000 Syrians.

August 26, 2013

A joint-fundraising campaign by Canada's Catholic bishops and their overseas development agency to bring emergency relief to Syrian refugees draws to a close Sept. 14.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and the Canadian Organizaton for Development and Peace (CCODP) launched the campaign to help people fleeing Syria's civil war.

The CCCB said the campaign will close with a day of fasting and prayer on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross for "the people of Syria and all of the Middle East."

Donations to CCODP must be sent in by Sept. 14, said a CCCB press release, noting the agency has raised $284,000 from Canadian Catholics to date.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHRC) in July, almost two million people have fled to neighbouring countries, the CCCB release said. Another 6.8 million people in Syria, a country of 22.5 million, are "seriously affected" by the ongoing violence, it said. Half are children.

The UNHCR says refugees "generally have access to basic public services" and that "malnutrition and mortality rates to date are relatively low."

However, that picture could deteriorate quickly as more refugees pour in, increasing the demands on host countries.

The CCCB-CCODP emergency campaign will provide funds for the work being done by Catholic charities and development agencies of the Holy See's charitable federation Caritas Internationalis, of which CCODP is a member.

CCODP is supporting its partner Caritas Syria in the distribution of heating fuel; of blankets and warm clothing; rent vouchers; and the purchase of stoves and electric heaters.

An estimate 1,600 families will be receiving help. CCODP is also working with Menapolis, a research and program consultancy based in Turkey and Tunisia, in the distribution of food baskets in Aleppo, Syria, and in setting up a bakery in Saraqeb also inside Syria.

CCODP is also working with agencies to help Syrian refugees and local people in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. More information is available at the CCODP website,