Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is scaling up its response to the alarming crisis in the Balkans where thousands of Syrian refugees and other migrants are arriving every day in hopes of reaching the European Union (EU). CRS is working with our Church partners in Greece, Albania, Macedonia and Serbia to provide immediate assistance, including food, water, access to sanitation, medical care and legal services.
CRS is also calling on the United States to expand humanitarian assistance to countries in the Middle East, and Turkey, that have for years been sheltering the largest number of Syrians and Iraqis, as well as to countries burdened by this new migration. Most importantly, the United States should lead concerted diplomatic efforts to end the fighting in Syria.
“Many Syrians have given up hope of returning home any time soon,” said Bill O’Keefe, vice president for Government Relations and Advocacy at CRS. “Countries such as Jordan and Lebanon that have opened their doors to Syrian and Iraqi refugees are simply out of resources. And many countries in Southern Europe are not prepared to meet the growing needs of those moving onward.”
As the Conflict enters its fifth year, a combination of desperation and hope is leading growing numbers of Syrians to attempt the extremely perilous journey toward Europe. With assistance to the most vulnerable and destitute along the main migration routes, CRS and our partners try to alleviate the hardships of women, children and elderly among the refugees.
“Countries like Macedonia and Serbia are struggling under the pressure of thousands of people coming in each day,” says Dino Mujanovic, a program manager for CRS in Serbia.
“Along with our Caritas partners, we’re providing food and drinking water, translation and legal services, medical care and hygiene items for women and children, along with other assistance,” Mujanovic said. “But our Balkan countries have not seen a humanitarian crisis of this scale since our wars in the 1990s and we need a great deal of aid to respond.”
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work are accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit crs.org or crsespanol.org and follow CRS on social media: Facebook, @CatholicRelief, @CRSnews, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.