Syria: a people in flight

By |10 August 2012|

Since 2011, violence in Syria has forced thousands of people to leave their homeland, with a huge wave of refugees pouring into Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. Caritas is giving refugees food, medical care, and emergency items. 

Q&A: Syrian refugee crisis

By |10 August 2012|

Why are so many people fleeing Syria? 

A conflict between government and anti-government forces in Syria has escalated sharply since early 2011. Aerial bombardments, shooting on the streets, sniper attacks, and other types of violence have hurt thousands of Syrian civilians. Many Syrians were hiding in their homes for months, unable to work or go to school, before they decided to flee to other countries to escape the violence.

Most Syrians remain in their country. Some have been displaced and face the same challenges that Syrian refugees abroad face. Caritas is providing food in Aleppo and Homs, mainly for displaced people.

Where are the Syrian refugees going? 

The refugees are primarily fleeing to the neighbouring countries of Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Some Iraqi refugees who were living in Syria have now fled back to Iraq.

Where do the refugees live? 

Some refugee families are living in apartments or old buildings, often crowding into very small […]

Escaping bullets and bombs in Syria

By |6 August 2012|

As Syria refugees pour into Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon, Caritas is giving them food, medical care, and emergency aid. Ilham, a mother of five, described a harrowing day in her home city to Caritas Communications Officer Laura Sheahen.

I have nothing to do with the military, I am a civilian. We’re from Bab Amr, in Homs.

One day I wanted to go get milk. My neighbour Adnan said, “Don’t go, I’ll bring you milk. I’m afraid you’ll be killed.” The snipers shoot from a long distance. We don’t see the shooter, but he sees us.

It was about 2 pm and Adnan was bringing the milk to me, two containers. A shooter was up in a building in a small window.

He was shot. The bullet went through his arm to his heart.

I went out to try to save Adnan. The person who shot him also shot me, to prevent me from reaching […]

Fleeing Syria: refugee parents tell their stories

By |3 August 2012|

Available in French By Laura Sheahen, Caritas Communications Officer “We’d move from neighbour to neighbour to escape the bombing,” says Ahmed, a father of six from the Syrian city of Homs. As civil war in his country escalated, he watched buildings bombarded and people injured or killed. “There came a moment when I looked at my children and thought, ‘nothing matters but them.’ I knew we had to leave.” If they only had themselves to worry about, thousands of Syrian parents might take their chances and stay in their country even as bombs drop and snipers fire. “If it were not for my children, I would never have left Syria. I should be there,” says Ahmed. Instead, he took his family to Jordan. Ilham, an epileptic mother of six, was shot in the leg by a sniper. But for several months after, she remained in Syria. “I didn’t want to […]

Mobile clinic visits Syrian refugee children

By |2 August 2012|

Available in French Tens of thousands of people have fled Syria to escape bombardments and shooting. Now living in cramped, unsanitary conditions in neighbouring countries, some refugees are falling ill. Doctor Simon Kolanjian is a pediatrician who travels in a Caritas Lebanon mobile clinic to treat refugee children. He spoke with Caritas Communications Officer Laura Sheahen about what he’s seen since the clinic on wheels started in May 2012. How are Syrian refugee children doing? The children are malnourished. They come to us and they’re weak and thin. A lot of kids have diarrhea. The water isn’t clean. I tell them to boil it. We need to tell them how to use water. The infections go up in summer. We can’t keep giving them antibiotics if the water’s bad. We must address the root cause. There are also upper respiratory infections, lice, fungal infections. How many kids do you usually […]

Syrian child refugees face poverty in Lebanon

By |1 August 2012|

Available in French By Laura Sheahen, Caritas Communications Officer A black pupil within azure and indigo swirls, the ‘ayn’ is supposed to ward off envy and the evil eye. These round, blue glass objects are ubiquitous in the Middle East. It’s hard to imagine who would envy the three bedraggled children I’m talking to in eastern Lebanon. Or how much worse their luck could get. Every day, the kids—a boy aged 10, his seven-year-old sister, and a girl aged 9—take a paid car alone from the refugee area where they’re living to the city of Zahle. All afternoon, they roam the streets of Zahle, trying to sell as many ayn as they can. The children are Syrian refugees, part of an exodus that has poured into Lebanon and other countries since spring 2011, but especially in July 2012. Here in Lebanon, some refugee families are living with host families or […]

Syrian refugee crisis: a ‘human flood’ into Lebanon

By |24 July 2012|

Since 2011, violence in Syria has forced thousands of people from their homes. In mid-July 2012, the conflict worsened rapidly and a huge wave of refugees poured into Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.

On July 24, Father Simon Faddoul, the head of Caritas Lebanon, spoke with Caritas Internationalis about the plight of the new refugees in his country. 

The situation has deteriorated rapidly in the past week. Can you tell us what’s happening now? 

The past five days have been extremely dangerous to the people of Syria. People are fleeing the war and coming to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Here in Lebanon, it’s been like a human flood over the border from Damascus. In 24 hours we had, at one time last week, over 15,000 people enter at one legal border crossing. If you count all the rest who come in other ways, it’s far more. They’re arriving in cars, trucks, buses, and […]

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    As Syrian refugee crisis grows, Caritas aids families in Lebanon and Jordan

As Syrian refugee crisis grows, Caritas aids families in Lebanon and Jordan

By |20 July 2012|

As violence in Syria worsens, Caritas continues to aid refugees as they stream into the neighbouring countries of Jordan and Lebanon.

In Jordan, Caritas is distributing food and essential items like diapers to hundreds of Syrian families in Mafraq and Zarqa. Caritas Jordan also arranged a free one-week medical campaign for Syrian refugees to provide blood pressure, sugar level, and ultrasound tests, in addition to consultations and medication.

In Lebanon, many Syrian refugees are living with host families who are already struggling to make ends meet. There are concerns that Lebanese communities hosting Syrian refugees have reached their limit and cannot absorb more. In northern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley, job opportunities are already inadequate and living spaces are scarce. The addition of tens of thousands of Syrians seeking work has only increased the pressure on these areas.

Caritas Lebanon is providing food parcels with rice, lentils, beans, tuna and more to […]

Caritas Syria President urges dialogue to end crisis

By |15 June 2012|

Chaldean Catholic Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo in Syria and head of Caritas Syria has been in France for meetings with Secours Catholique (Caritas France).  He spoke to François Tcherkessoff.  Here is an edited version of the interview (translated by Caritas Internationalis). What does the Church leadership say about the recent events? The three patriarchs of Damascus from the Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Syrian churches urge dialogue, an end to the violence, a reform of the State to allow greater freedom, democratic elections. Some Christians fear the unknown with the possible rise of religious fundamentalism as in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt and so defend the regime.

Pope expresses pain over Syria massacre

By |30 May 2012|

The UN says 108 people have been killed in the Syrian town of Houla. Nearly half of them were children. Witnesses and survivors told the UN that most of the victims died as a result of summary executions. The Pope has expressed great pain as a result of the massacre. On Tuesday, Fr Federico Lombardi, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, issued the following statement on the tragedy in Houla, Syria. It said, “The recent massacre in Houla, where more than one hundred people, including many children, lost their lives, has distressed and worried the Holy Father and the entire Catholic community, as well as the international community, who have unanimously condemned the incident. “In renewing its call for the cessation of all forms of violence, the Holy See urges the parties concerned and the international community to spare no effort to resolve the crisis through dialogue and […]

Volunteers in Jordan help with influx of Syrian refugees

By |10 May 2012|

By Caritas Internationalis and Caritas Jordan staff “I like to help others,” said Madleen Qandah, a 21 years old mathematics student in Mafraq. She is volunteering with Caritas Jordan as it aids Syrian refugees fleeing violence in their own country. “I just put myself in the refugees’ shoes and treat them how I would like to be treated in the same situation,” she said. Around 500 refugees arrive a day in Jordan according to various relief agencies. The Jordanian government says the number of Syrian refugees in the country has surpassed 110,000 people. The influx of Syrians is putting huge pressures on the Jordanian economy and housing capacity. The country is also hosting 450,000 Iraqi refugees according to the government, who fled the conflict in Iraq that began in 2003. Working mainly in Mafraq, Caritas Jordan teams have provided 500 families with aid such as heaters, bedding, towels, plastic mats, […]

Delivering aid inside Syria

By |9 May 2012|

Selim* has been working for Caritas Syria in Aleppo for three months helping people with food and other aid. He says Aleppo has been hit hard by the economic crisis in Syria. The conflict and international sanctions have led to high levels of inflation and unemployment across the country. Caritas helps poor families and especially the elderly with food. Programmes are just getting underway, and so far they have helped 120 families and 45 elderly. Selim says Caritas is also able to send aid to the conflict-hit city of Homs. The city has been a centre for the opposition. Heavy fighting over control of the city between the opposition and the government began twelve months ago and climaxed in March 2012 with a major government offensive.

Syrian church calls for an end to cycle of violence

By |4 May 2012|

By Patrick Nicholson The Catholic Church in Syria has made this powerful statement on the crisis there, where daily violence continues to have a deadly toll and more people are crossing the borders to neighbouring countries. The statement is in French. It’s calling for an end to the violence and especially all forms of intimidation such as kidnappings and assassinations. It supports the humanitarian mission of UN Envoy Kofi Annan and especially the need to demilitarise the streets. The Syrican church says in the statement (my translation), “The violence has gone beyond the limit and we can only forcefully urge wise minds to come to their senses and abondon all that is destroying the people and the country.” The Syrian church is saying it stands in solidarity with all Syrians as they seek a dignified life. It supports the reform process, the need for a democratic and pluralistic society and […]

Conflict in Syria

By |26 April 2012|

An uprising against the Syrian government and the President Bashar al-Assad has left 9000 people dead since fighting broke out in March 2011.

Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes. Many have sought safety in neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, others remain in Syria.

Conditions within Syria and for the refugees who have fled are bleak. They need food, shelter and medical assistance. Children need educational support and adults don’t have access to employment.

Caritas staff members are providing aid both within Syria and to those refugees who have fled in Jordan and Lebanon. Caritas Turkey is also willing to respond.

Pope Benedict’s Holy Thursday Mass collection went to Caritas Syria for humanitarian assistance to Syrian’s forced from their homes because of the conflict.

“Particularly in Syria, may there be an end to bloodshed and an immediate commitment to the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation, as called for […]

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    Caritas Jordan aiding Syrian refugees while Pope pledges Caritas Syria Easter donation

Caritas Jordan aiding Syrian refugees while Pope pledges Caritas Syria Easter donation

By |28 March 2012|

Refugees continue to flee conflict in Syria to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Meanwhile, the Vatican has announced that Pope Benedict’s Holy Thursday Mass collection in St. John’s basilica will go  to Caritas Syria for humanitarian assistance to Syrian’s forced from their homes because of the conflict. In the latest update from Caritas Jordan, staff say the number of registered Syrians with them has reached 900 families in Mafraq and Ramtha, comprising 4500-5000 individuals. About 20 individuals are registering daily with Caritas; some are legally staying in Jordan while others managed to jump over the fence and got into the Jordanian territories that way. After carrying out a distribution of household items in Ramtha and Mafraq two weeks ago, Caritas managed in the past three days to distribute blankets, heaters, bed linens, quilts, towels, plastic mats, sanitary pads, mattresses and jerry cans to 200 Syrian families in Mafraq. This batch targeted […]

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