Negotiations are under way to resolve the horrible conflict that for three years has been tearing Syria apart and has resulted in at least 130 thousand victims and an overwhelming flood of refugees into neighboring countries. Sadly, there has been practically no progress in the talks, not even the truce that the parties were thinking possible. Now, almost seven million Syrians are in need of assistance – refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, as well as displaced persons in the country itself.
Unanswered appeals follow one after the other, first of all the call of Pope Francis for a truce and for the creation of humanitarian corridors. The Holy Father has also recalled “the praiseworthy efforts of those countries, especially Lebanon and Jordan, that have generously welcomed many Syrian refugees” (from the January 13, 2014 Address to the Diplomatic Corps); and next May he will go the Middle East himself to show his support for peace initiatives in that suffering region.
The Pontifical Council for the Family and Caritas Italy repeat these appeals and call for the rapid resumption of fruitful dialogue among all parties to the conflict. At the same time, they are proceeding with their structured commitment to provide concrete assistance to the local communities, notwithstanding the enormous difficulties that arise in a situation of widespread violence. Likewise, they are continuing their efforts to educate for peace and solidarity.
In recent weeks, the offices of Caritas in Aleppo were struck by a mortar shell shortly before food was to be distributed. The office was one of six located in the major population centers of the country. Fortunately, no one was injured, and the aid workers moved to the diocesan offices and continued with the distribution.
The Pontifical Council for the Family and Caritas Italy have undertaken a number of initiatives to assist Syrian families. First, during the World Pilgrimage of Families on October 26 and 27, 2013, they gave aid to approximately 20,000 Syrians at the request of Caritas Syria. Then they cooperated with the Class A Football/Soccer League and the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) on the occasion of the First Day of the New Season (January 18-19, 2014).
Now, the Italian State Railways have joined this peace initiative by agreeing to transmit an explanatory video in all their principal train stations–1105 TV screens– from February 16 to February 22. The same video was shown in St. Peter’s Square on February 14, during the meeting between Pope Francis and engaged couples.
A continuing journey toward realizing the hope for peace.
The communication campaign is grateful for the assistance of the Italian State Railways. The video was produced by Federico Fazzuoli and Elisa Greco with footage from Lebanese refugee camps.