Lebanon buckling under influx of refugees

By |3 April 2013|

By Jos de Vogd, CORDAID (Caritas Netherlands) After two years of fighting in Syria, the flow of refugees into neighbouring Lebanon is increasing the pressure on this small country by the day. According to recent government figures, more than a million Syrians are now in Lebanon. And every week more than 10,000 more displaced people, all looking for accommodation, are adding to the problem because there are no official refugee camps there. The numbers include refugees registered or waiting to be registered with the UN refuge agency UNHCR. But they also include people who are either not willing to register as well as seasonal workers who didn’t return to Syria because of the civil war, instead persuading their families to join them in Lebanon. Also included are Palestinian refugees from Syria and Lebanon who were permanently living in Syria. At the moment, one in five people in Lebanon come from Syria. There [...]

Escape from Syria, safe haven in Jordan

By |13 March 2013|

More than a million Syrian refugees have fled the conflict in their country. Half of them have gone to Jordan, where they mostly live side by side with Jordanians in towns and cities. They arrive with nothing, often suffering from trauma and health problems. Caritas members around the world are supporting Caritas Jordan to provide them with humanitarian aid like blankets, heaters, fuel, food and hygiene kits, as well as medical care, housing support, informal education and counselling for trauma. So far Caritas Jordan has registered 75,000 individuals for its assistance.
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    Refugee helping refugee: inspiring stories from the Syrian crisis

Refugee helping refugee: inspiring stories from the Syrian crisis

By |21 February 2013|

By Patrick Nicholson Tahani and Rahaf are both Syrian refugees who volunteer for Caritas Jordan to help their compatriots. “We had a normal life,” said Rahaf Al Jaber, a 20 year old woman from the Syrian capital Damascus. “We went to university. We had friends. We were even a little spoiled by our parents. And then suddenly we had nothing. We were cold, hungry and alone.” Rahaf fled with her family to Jordan after her father was threatened. “My father received a phone call saying he should leave or he will be killed. We left the house straight away, without time to pack.  We learned that our house was burned down later. We fled along back roads and through fields to avoid checkpoints. We walked across the border.” They went to Zaatri refugee camp once they were in Jordan. “It’s in a desert. Life is very difficult,” she said. “We slept in tents [...]

Syrian crisis through the eyes of its refugees

By |20 February 2013|

By Patrick Nicholson “Each Syrian you meet will tell you a different story; but they are all the same tragedy,” said Fawaz, a refugee who crossed into Jordan last month. Since the conflict began two years ago in Syria, its cities have been devastated, its people go hungry, living in fear, 70,000 are dead and around 3 million have been forced from their homes. Half of the Syrian refugees who have fled their country are in Jordan. Most live in urban areas in rented rooms. Caritas Jordan provides them with humanitarian aid, housing support, healthcare, education and counseling. Here are five of their stories. Fawaz Fawaz cradles his 20-day old baby girl in his arms as they wait at the Caritas clinic in Amman. The baby has a high fever and has been born with a hip problem. Thankfully her twin brother is healthy and happy.  The twins were born just days after Fawaz [...]

Exodus of Syrian refugees to Jordan

By |29 January 2013|

“This is a nightmare. We will wake up soon to find ourselves in our beloved Syria,” said Ismail Ahmad Al Ajrab, a 30 year old refugee from the Syrian city of Homs. “I feel sometimes that this is all just a dream, but then the difficulties hit you and I know it is our reality now.” Syrian refugees are streaming across the border into Jordan, fleeing the 22-month-old uprising. More than 26,500 have crossed over the border since 1 January, almost double the figures for December. Tens of thousands more are waiting to cross to join the 300,000 refugees already in the county. Ismail fled eight months ago with his wife, Jihan, and their three boys: Rafiq, 6, Mashaal, 4, and one-year old Yousef. “I was under arrest for 4 months in Syrian. Through a miracle, I managed to escape with my family to Jordan,” he said. Once in Jordan, he learned [...]

Caritas on alert as Syria crisis gets worse

By |24 January 2013|

Caritas teams in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey are providing humanitarian aid to over 100,000 people affected by the escalating Syrian conflict. Caritas has launched international appeals for all four countries, which combined total €5 million. (Read: Overwhelming humanitarian crisis within Syria) Conditions for ordinary people in Syria are deteriorating rapidly with a lack of food , clean water, shelter and medical care. The violence has left tens of thousands of people dead and more than 2.5 million people in need of urgent aid. More than 1.5 million forced from their homes remain within Syria. Families sleep outdoors, in abandoned schools or in makeshift camps. The economy has collapsed and savings have been spent long ago. Providing aid is difficult and dangerous, but Caritas has been able to carry on its work and will provide winter fuel, blankets, warm clothes, heaters and rent subsidies in Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Hassakeh. Read how Caritas has [...]

Caritas response to crisis in Syria

By |24 January 2013|

Violence in Syria has left tens of thousands of people dead and more than 2,5 million people in need of urgent aid. Caritas teams in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey are providing humanitarian aid to over 100,000 people. Caritas has launched appeals totalling 5 million Euro to help them.

Overwhelming humanitarian crisis within Syria

By |23 January 2013|

Under a blanket given by Caritas, a mother and child try to keep out the freezing cold temperatures and snow as they sleep out in the open in one of the parks of the Syrian capital Damascus. They are just two of 1.5 million people forced from their homes during the country’s civil war. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and injured in the fighting in Syria. Each day, many people live in fear of dying in a car bomb, having members of their families raped, or quite simply not being able to find enough food. With support from many other Caritas organisations, Caritas Syria has been providing food, medical assistance, helping children keep up with school and ensuring people are prepared for the winter. It has been working in Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Hassakeh, Horan and on the coast. In the midst of a harsh winter, Syrians face freezing conditions, [...]

Pope Benedict calls for Syrian ceasefire

By |7 January 2013|

Pope Benedict has called for a ceasefire in Syria and for the international community to engage in a constructive dialogue. In an address to the Holy See's diplomatic corps, Pope Benedict called on diplomats "to resolve the numerous conflicts causing bloodshed in our human family, beginning with that privileged region in God’s plan, the Middle East. "I think first and foremost of Syria, torn apart by endless slaughter and the scene of dreadful suffering among its civilian population. I renew my appeal for a ceasefire and the inauguration as quickly as possible of a constructive dialogue aimed at putting an end to a conflict which will know no victors but only vanquished if it continues, leaving behind it nothing but a field of ruins." Read more...

Life is hard for Syrian refugees in the Lebanese winter

By |4 January 2013|

By Marina Bellot, Secours Catholique/Caritas France Life is increasingly difficult for Syrian refugees in Lebanon now winter has come. However, Caritas Lebanon is by their side. Syrians who cross the border to Lebanon are looking for one thing for themselves and their families : to live in peace. Some 132,000 Syrian refugees have been registered by the UN refugee agency since the brutal conflict began in their country. Eighty percent are women and children who have fled, leaving behind their homes, their lives and their loved ones, who they sometimes later discover were killed in the war. Once across the border, some refugees are taken in by host families, particularly in the north of Lebanon where there are strong ties between the two peoples. Others rent small rooms which are sometimes home to more than a dozen people. But with the conflict entering its second year, the welcome is wearing out and in [...]

Caritas Turkey: side by side with Syrian refugees

By |21 December 2012|

By Caritas Turkey There are tens of thousands Syrian refugee families living outside the tent camps along the Syria-Turkey border. This is a number increasing very fast day by day. About an hour far from Istanbul, some Syrian refugee families live in poor and crowded housing conditions. Ali, a 13 year old young boy, is worried for his father, who developed serious hypertension and heart problems recently, following the stress he has to endure every day. He, together with his family and children, had to flee in a rush from a conflict in Syria, facing a dangerous, long journey to cross the border into Turkey. Now, they do not know for how long they will have to stay in Turkey without sufficient resources, jobs, education, health services, and without being allowed to apply for asylum or being given an official status. They are worried about the rent, the future of their children, [...]

Helping Syrians out of the cold

By |19 December 2012|

Caritas is calling for donations to help those struggling as a result of the war in Syria. Families who have lost homes and livelihoods need urgent help, especially as winter makes their lives even more difficult. Some 500,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries because of the conflict which started in March 2011. A further 1.5 million are internally displaced. Conditions for many left in the country are pitiful and up to 2.5 million people require help. “Many people’s lives and families have been shattered by this war,” says Bishop Antoine Audo, president of Caritas Syria. “We must accompany Syrians through this tragedy and show them that they are not alone. We mustn’t let the light go out on Syria in this cold and dark winter.” Caritas is appealing for US$822,100 (€637,287) for a six-month project which will help 1,600 families. The funds collected will help people face the winter. Caritas will provide [...]

Syria: “A tragedy unfolding in front of our eyes”

By |19 December 2012|

Michel Roy, secretary general of Caritas Internationalis, has appealed to world leaders to get involved politically and diplomatically in the world's worst humanitarian crises. He singled out the conflict in Syria as needing particular attention from the international community: "What is happening in Syria is a big tragedy which is unfolding in front of our eyes and something has to be done." He was speaking at the UN World Food Programme in Rome. He was there to launch a massive global appeal with Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. The US$8.5 billion appeal will help an estimated 51 million people around the world in 2013. Read more about the appeal.
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    Temperature drop in Lebanon leaving Syrian refugees out in cold

Temperature drop in Lebanon leaving Syrian refugees out in cold

By |14 December 2012|

By Jos de Voogd, Bekaa Valley The news this week is that more than 500,000 Syrian refugees have been registered by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in the region, and the numbers are climbing by more than 3,000 per week as the conflict escaltes. Lebanon is the smallest of Syria’s neighbouring countries and bears one of the greatest burdens. There are 154,000 refugees are formerly registered or waiting for registration there. According to Kamal Sioufi, board member of Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre this brings a heavy burden on the Lebanese society. “We have a history of conflict and of refugees coming to our country,” he said. “Lebanon already hosts a large numbers of Palestinians and to lesser extend Iraqi refugees. If the number of Syrian refugees keeps rising and if this situation will again last for years, we fear instability”.

Aleppo suffers with no end in sight to Syria crisis

By |28 November 2012|

Read in French “Everything is enveloped by a sense of ruin and decay,” says Bishop Antoine Audo, Chaldean bishop of Aleppo and president of Caritas Syria. “In Aleppo, there are hundreds of thousands of displaced people crammed into schools and makeshift camps. There are 5,000 people who sleep outside in the gardens of the university campus. “Conditions are getting worse. We have no hospital, no schools, no university. Even for those who still live in their homes, the situation is difficult. “Industrial areas on the outskirts of the city have been bombed and looted. For weeks, rubbish has not been collected. The stench has become unbearable.”

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