December 19, 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.
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”.
November 28, 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.”
By Dana Shahin, Caritas Jordan Fatima is a widow who recently fled the conflict in Syria to seek refuge in Jordan. She came to the Caritas Jordan centre in Mafraq where she would be able to receive essential help. Once she’d registered with a Caritas staff member, she headed over to the volunteer’s desk to receive her aid items such as blankets, quilts and personal hygiene products. There were large boxes consisting of different coloured quilts. The volunteers usually picks one or two, depending on the family size, and hand them over to the refugees. Fatima, after taking her package, approached one of the volunteers. With a shy quiet voice, she asked, “Is it ok if I choose another quilt? I don’t like this colour.” The Caritas team told her to pick another one. With a thrilled expression on her face , she ran happily to the box and took few minutes to pick [...]
Par Secours Catholique À Damas, le centre de soins pour enfants infirmes moteurs cérébraux (IMC) reste ouvert, en dépit des évènements. Il offre à 70 enfants atteints de paralysie cérébrale une prise en charge thérapeutique favorisant leur développement. Le centre, créé par l’association Terre des hommes Syrie, veut aussi former des personnels locaux pour prendre en charge ces enfants et sensibiliser les familles aux méthodes d’accompagnement à domicile et à l’urgente intégration sociale de leurs enfants. À cet égard, il y a fort à faire dans un pays où les personnes handicapées ne disposent, de fait, que du seul soutien des ONG et des associations locales. Dans ce lieu ouvert six jours par semaine, cinq départements spécialisés (physiothérapie, ergothérapie, orthophonie, psychomotricité et informatique) sont au service des enfants infirmes. Chaque mois l’équipe thérapeutique se réunit en présence du médecin et rédige un rapport dans lequel sont notés les problèmes rencontrés, l’évolution de [...]
“We had normal lives. We had our own business. We had beautiful houses...it’s all gone, it has been destroyed and burned during the war and now I live in this tent.” Salwa is one of the 100,000 Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon. She lives in a camp in the Bekaa Valley. The rickety tent she shares with her five children is her new home. Made of stitched up bags and rags, it is wholly inadequate for the coming winter rain. “They don’t know where to sleep. Every day we receive many families who tell us they have been sleeping in the open,” said Maria Abou Diman a social worker for Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center. The number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon is estimated at 200,000. Many choose not to register, mainly through fear of reprisals. “Some people think that when they register, their name will be sent back to Syria, and [...]
October 25, 2012
While international efforts are made to bring about a ceasefire in Syria, refugees continue to flood over the border into neighbouring countries. Up to 360,000 have fled Syria as a result of the ongoing conflict there. They may have lost family members in the violence or been separated from them. They leave behind their homes and sometimes all their possessions. Caritas in Lebanon and Jordan welcome the refugees with shelter, food, basic necessities and moral support. However, as winter approaches and they face life in tents and temporary shelters, the hardships faced by the refugees are growing daily. Press release: Caritas struggling to meet Syria crisis Syrian crisis: Tough times ahead for refugees | Watch video 100,000 Syrians in Lebanon face hardship as winter looms Caritas Jordan helping Syrian refugees Caritas blog: Life after Syria Interview with Bishop of Aleppo, Antoine Audo, describing the plight of Syrians people and their needs. Interview given to Aid to the Church in [...]
“I thank Caritas every day for the assistance we received” Three months ago, Sanaa gave birth alone in her house, just a few days after arriving in Lebanon from Syria. She, her husband and their two young children ran away from heavy shelling .They are from Hama and did not know anyone in Lebanon. “We had no money to eat and we got scared for the children,” she said. “We know the situation will not get better soon in Syria”. A few years ago, her husband had an accident. Since then, he cannot move his right hand and has severe memory loss. Sometimes, he does not recognise his own wife. Despite this disability, he found a job as a gardener. But the salary is low and they cannot even afford nappies for their new born. The family was referred to Caritas Lebanon by a former municipality member in the Bekaa. They had never [...]
As the fighting intensifies throughout Syria, thousands of refugees continue to pour over the border. According to the latest figures from UNHCR (the UN refugee agency), there are 100,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon registered and over double that figure not registered. “I see more people and more despair,” says Hombline Dulière, a social worker for Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center. “At the beginning of the summer most of the refugees I met thought they would be back in Syria in a matter of weeks. Now, for many people, the realisation that the situation will last longer, affects them deeply,” she said. Caritas staff and its volunteers are working around the clock to provide assistance to the refugees. However, as winter approaches, living conditions are getting precarious. Najla Chahda, director of Caritas Migrant Center, says, “Temperatures in the Bekaa Valley at night are around 8 degrees Celsius. In the coming weeks they will drop [...]
Jordan is one of the destinations for refugees escaping from conflict in Syria. Caritas helps provide those arriving with essential items, but life is very harsh for those seeking safety. The numbers of Syrian refugees registered by Caritas Jordan is over 50,000. The majority are women and children. The primary focus of Caritas is providing non-food items with teams of volunteers actively involved in the distribution of jerry cans, warm bedding and hygiene kits for registered families, as well as school bags and kits for children. “We are trying to create a channel of trust and credibility with those affected. We listen a lot and although when we cannot provide for all the people’s needs, at least we can empathise and provide emotional support,” says Jameel Dababneh, an Emergency Response Officer for Caritas . While attention is focused on the refugee camps, Caritas Jordan works primarily outside the camps through their nine [...]
September 25, 2012
Pope Benedict XVI said he had gone to Lebanon and to the Middle East as a “pilgrim of peace”. Over the next three days, he would return to the same theme of peace in the troubled region in every speech he delivered. President of Caritas Lebanon Father Simon Faddoul, reflecting on the visit, said, “The Pope was a messenger of peace to an area that is in a state of continuous war. His presence in Lebanon could bring conflicting parties closer.” The Pope came to deliver the Apostolic Exhortation - the fruit of the Synod for the Middle East. “In this Exhortation, the Pope invites the Christians to act as citizens of the land by living out their citizenship fully,” said Fr Faddoul. “And invites the Muslims to accept differences in multi-religious societies.” The pope's visit served as a showcase for Lebanon, which for years was a model of peaceful coexistence and religious [...]
By Shahera Khader Maria Abou Diman, a 28-year-old social worker in charge of Caritas Lebanon’s center in Taalabaya (Bekaa Valley), sits outside her office on a plastic white chair. Around her are faces filled with anxiety, hunger and exhaustion. An 80-year-old woman stands directly beside her. She hands Abou Diman her I.D. Her hands, filled with rivers of deep wrinkles, are shaking uncontrollably. She pierces Abou Diman with her mournful eyes. “How can I help you?” Abou Diman asks the woman. “I need more blankets, please, my daughter is cold and hungry,” the woman said. Others crowd around Aboud Diman, telling her their own names and what they need. Abou Diman pulls a chair up for the old woman and motions for her to take a seat. The Caritas Lebanon migrant center’s social worker stands and wipes the drops of sweat off her forehead; she has been receiving Syrian refugees […]
August 10, 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.
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 [...]