A teenage youth ambassador (left) teaches young Palestinians how to express conflict in creative ways instead of resorting to violence. Photo by Liz O'Neill/CRS

A teenage youth ambassador (left) teaches young Palestinians how to express conflict in creative ways instead of resorting to violence. Photo by Liz O'Neill/CRS

CRS' Commitment to Catholic Teaching

The Middle East is a land holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims, but tragically it is also a violent land that yearns for a just peace. Catholic Relief Services' long-running work in the Holy Land is therefore guided by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' commitment to a just, sustainable, and secure peace, in accordance with the Vatican's appeal that "the two-state solution become a reality, not remain a dream."

CRS' work in the Holy Land has evolved over the course of decades, but continues to focus on accompanying local partners to strengthen the economic, civic and environmental foundations for a viable Palestinian state while responding to humanitarian crises whenever they arise.

Intense fighting in July and August 2014 between Israel and militant groups in Gaza led to huge loss of life and infrastructure damage throughout the Gaza Strip. Besides thousands of casualties, primarily among civilians, the conflict caused widespread destruction of homes, factories, schools, farmland, water networks, roads, and electrical lines. CRS is working with local partners in Gaza to help communities recover and rebuild their homes, lives and opportunity.

CRS supports strong leadership by the U.S. government to seek a comprehensive peace agreement that ends the conflict in the Holy Land and achieves both the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state and Israel's goal of a secure state with recognized borders.

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Population:4,440,127; 1,763,387 in Gaza (2013 est.) and 2,676,740 in the West Bank (2013 est.)
Size:2,363 sq mi; slightly smaller than Delaware
People Served:243,892 (2013 est.)


Catholic Relief Services' work in the Holy Land stretches back to the 1940s, when CRS provided humanitarian assistance to communities displaced during World War II. CRS established a office in Jerusalem in 1961 under an agreement with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and has maintained a continuous presence throughout the intervening decades of turbulence and change.

CRS' work initially focused on the provision of food assistance, organizing vaccination campaigns, and leading other nutrition and health-focused initiatives. In the 1970s and 1980s, CRS constructed roads, classrooms, bridges and wells as part of a broad rural development initiative. CRS also implemented nutrition education, vocational training and village health worker training projects. Water projects became a major area of focus in the 1990s.

Today, the country's strategic focus is on programs addressing food security, civic participation, peacebuilding, the provision of humanitarian assistance and educating U.S. citizens about the conflict in the Holy Land. CRS' work is carried out in close partnership with an extensive network of local civil society organizations and in consultation with the local Church.


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