January 23, 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 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...
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 [...]
December 21, 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, [...]
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 [...]