By David Uebbing
AMMAN, Jordan — Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, is visiting Jordan to take stock of the serious refugee situation created by the Syrian conflict and to assess how Catholic charities are responding.
“The humanitarian situation in Syria and throughout the region is unsustainable. Some estimates speak of 1 million refugees, more than 2.5 million displaced persons, and almost 100,000 deaths directly attributable to violence,” a Feb. 18 press release from Cor Unum says.
The Pontifical Council is responsible for overseeing the international Catholic relief agency Caritas, distributing funds to disaster victims and coordinating Catholic charitable efforts.
The meeting will provide an opportunity to assess humanitarian aid provided by Catholic charities, including Caritas, to refugees and victims of the violence in Syria.
The scale of the refugee crisis is vast. Jordan, Israel, Lebanon and Turkey have all received people trying to es-cape the fighting between government troops and opposition forces. The U.N. estimates that 5,000 people are leaving Syria every day, although other reports indicate the actual number could be significantly higher.
As of Feb. 18, the number of refugees in Jordan had reached 355,000. On Monday, the Jordanian border guard forces reported that 1,279 people had crossed into the country in the last 24 hours alone.
The stream of refugees pouring into Jordan “has exceeded all expectations as the number of Syrians crossing the border between the two countries during the first week of the new year has come to 8,835 refugees, whereas the number in December was 22,000,” a Jan. 12 situation report from Caritas Jordan said.