TORONTO (CCN) — A $28.5 million vote of confidence from the federal government will help the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace deliver aid to refugees and war-affected Syrians, Iraqis and others over the next three years.
As part of $239.5 million in humanitarian aid International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced Feb. 27, Development and Peace was awarded:
— $12 million for emergency health care, maternal and neonatal care and other services to refugees Jordan;
— $8.5 million in programs to help displaced people inside Syria grow food and earn a living where they are;
— $8 million to support clinics, provide emergency health care and deliver vocational training among refugees in Lebanon.
In total, the aid will reach over 200,000 people — not just Syrian refugees but Iraqis and other long-term refugees caught in the region. The programs in Jordan are projected to serve 160,000 people. Funding to Caritas Lebanon will help that organization reach 41,000. In Syria the programs will help 36,800.
The three-year term of the funding agreement is particularly significant, Development and Peace co-ordinator of humanitarian programming Guy Des Aulniers told The Catholic Register.
“It’s the first time that the government of Canada allowed, for a humanitarian crisis, three years of funding,” he said.
The longer term of the funding agreement will allow for more planning and better distribution of resources, “providing the consistent support and services needed for people to rebuild their lives,” said Caritas Jordan executive director Wael Suleiman in a press release.
Most of Development and Peace’s partners in the Middle East are other members of the Caritas Internationalis network of Catholic agencies. Development and Peace is one of more than 160 Caritas members, the second-largest humanitarian network in the world.
For security reasons, Development and Peace is withholding the names of its partners inside Syria.
Sudbury Development and Peace member Ruva Catherine Gwekwerere said she was grateful to see Global Affairs Canada recognize the effectiveness of Development and Peace partnerships in the Middle East.
“It’s so encouraging that the government is recognizing the important work of organizations like Development and Peace and funding them,” Gwekwerere told The Catholic Register via Facebook. “Development and Peace’s strategy has been ahead of its time.”
Gwekwerere hopes to see local Development and Peace groups educate themselves about the complex issues at play throughout the Middle East.
“Understanding this can lead to citizens understanding the possibility of a peaceful solution,” Gwekwerere said. “Learning about the root causes of these issues not only allows us to look outside ourselves and understand the world better, but also to lobby our own governments to find truly just actions to take.”
Development and Peace has been involved in the Middle East since its founding in 1967 and has been responding to the Syrian crisis for almost six years. In recent years, Development and Peace’s focus has shifted from Latin America to Africa and the Middle East, said Des Aulniers.
“We’re responding to the need. We’re going wherever there’s a need,” he said. “People are so tired. When you speak with Syrians, they are just tired of everything. They think they don’t have the solution in their hands. It’s really over their heads.”