|Catholic Relief Services Collection Funds Assistance To Iraqi Refugees|
WASHINGTON–The 2008 Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Collection, which provides core funding for six U.S. Catholic agencies, is slated for the weekend of March 1-2.
The collection is taken up annually in Catholic parishes during Lent. Monies raised address humanitarian emergency needs – big and small, domestic and abroad. It funds critical emergency relief in disaster areas and assists the voiceless worldwide through advocacy and legislative efforts.
Generous support from Catholics for this collection (formerly known as the American Bishops' Overseas Appeal) has provided funding for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC); Catholic Relief Services (CRS); the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Departments of Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) and Justice, Peace and Human Development; the Holy Father's Relief Fund; and the USCCB Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church.
The CRS Collection currently funds refugee and migration assistance efforts in Iraq, where two million people have been displaced by the ongoing conflict. Each month 50,000 Iraqis flee their homes, according to United Nations estimates. In response, Catholic organizations are implementing programs in Syria and Lebanon to assist refugees.
Jack Connolly, CRS Senior Representative for the Middle East, noted the challenge faced by assistance agencies.
"Although it's only recently that the international community has acknowledged and begun to respond to this humanitarian catastrophe, when you look at the numbers affected – more than four million people uprooted – the response is still not sufficient," Connolly said. "Much more needs to be done to assist and protect this population."
The appeal, to which Catholics contributed nearly $18 million in 2007 – a seven percent increase over the previous year – funds a variety of programs, including refugee assistance, advocacy, relief and recovery in emergencies and resettlement for victims of natural disasters, conflict or persecution.
For additional information on the upcoming CRS Collection visit www.usccb.org/crscollection or contact Patrick Markey at 202-541-3500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.