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 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 [...]

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 [...]

Be a successful fundraiser

By |27 March 2012|

By Nigel Wallace, Caritas Internationalis Director of Income Development Caritas Lebanon is very fortunate to have Fr. Simon Faddoul as its president. The charismatic priest and his enthusiastic team are dedicated to Caritas and helping the thousands of local people, migrants and refugees who rely on their support and aid. Caritas is far reaching with 36 geographic sectors throughout the country and 9 mobile clinics offering diverse services and programmes. Currently, much of their work is emergency response helping those fleeing from the crisis in Syria. While Fr. Faddoul has been twisting arms of the wealthy in parishes and beyond to support the work of Caritas, there has been ever increasing recognition of the need to integrate the spontaneous generosity that already exists with a more sophisticated fundraising strategy to meet growing financial demands. I recently had the pleasure to visit Caritas Lebanon to facilitate a 2-day fundraising workshop to […]
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    Caritas in Lebanon and Jordan doing more to help Syrian refugees

Caritas in Lebanon and Jordan doing more to help Syrian refugees

By |23 March 2012|

By Patrick Nicholson Syrian refugees continue to flee into neighbouring Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. They’re trying to escape fighting between government and opposition forces that began last March. Caritas members in the region are looking to respond to the growing needs of the refugees. Living conditions are difficult. Hamid* brought his wife and children from Tal Kalakh in Syria to Wadi Khaled just across the border in northern Lebanon as soon as fighting started in March 2011. He said he feared that the situation would go from “bad to very bad” because of sectarianism and thought it safer to leave while he could. His family of six have lived for six months in one of the rooms of an old abandoned school building. Fifteen families live in the school. The rooms are tiny, damp and cold. His wife couldn’t cope so she went home at one point. “I would have […]
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    Alem’s life is over, but her story is not: ending domestic worker abuse in Lebanon

Alem’s life is over, but her story is not: ending domestic worker abuse in Lebanon

By |22 March 2012|

Recently, a viral video showing the abuse of an Ethiopian migrant in Lebanon shocked those who saw it. The Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center (CLMC) has worked with abused housemaids for years and sends us this timeline in the life of Alem, who was known to CLMC staff. By Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center Staff Like over 200,000 migrant women in Lebanon, Alem Dechasa-Desisa, a 33-year-old Ethiopian, made the difficult choice to leave her family and two children, and come to Lebanon as a housemaid to improve her family’s living conditions. Unlike many women who are able to realise this dream, Alem faced the harsh reality that some domestic migrant workers experience in Lebanon. In the video, Alem’s employment agent showed publically, in the streets of Beirut, the same treatment that some employers keep secret and hidden. Before LBCI news released the video on 8 March, the International Woman’s Day, the TV […]

Caritas aid reaches Syrian refugees in Lebanon

By |16 March 2012|

“The situation is bad,” said Fatima*. She had arrived from Syria into Lebanon that morning with five of her seven children. They’d fled from Kosayr, a suburb of Homs that’s currently undergoing heavy shelling as fighting continues between the government and opposition forces. Her husband stayed on while her teenage boys were stopped from leaving. She and the rest of the children had walked two hours across the border. They’re staying in a bare concrete storeroom, normally used for farm equipment. The refugees brought nothing with them. Snow still covers the mountains of the Bekaa Valley. It’s cold and windy in the remote rural border area. There are two mats on the floor of the room and a crate of empty cola bottles. There is no heating. Caritas Lebanon is carrying out an aid distribution in Bekaa and gives them a box of food, with pasta, rice, oil and other bare [...]

Syrian refugees flee to Lebanon with stories of terror

By |13 March 2012|

By Patrick Nicholson  *Mohamed’s son was born a few weeks ago during the battle for Bab Amro, a suburb of the Syrian city of Homs. “The baby was delivered by a dentist,” says the father, in a makeshift clinic that previously been a neighbour’s home. “There wasn’t any medical equipment,” he says. Locals had given whatever cotton wool and bandages they could find. The dentist was mainly treating shrapnel wounds that day, but babies don’t wait for wars to end before being born. Bab Amro has seen the worst of the conflict in Syria since an uprising began in March 2011. Life there during the siege for Mohamed, his wife, three-year old daughter and new-born son was one of daily survival. “There was bombing night and day,” says Mohamed. Water and food had run out. There was no electricity. Mohamed would try to find water in the abandoned houses of neighbours who [...]

Aiding Syrian refugees in Lebanon

By |6 March 2012|

Caritas Lebanon is aiding Syrian refugee families who have arrived in Lebanon throughout the past few months. A team from the Caritas Lebanon organised a two-day fact finding mission to the north-east of Lebanon in February. The team included staff from the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre and Caritas Baalbeck. Across the border with Syria in the Bekaa valley, two villages Qaa and Jdeide are currently hosting twelve Christian Syrian families from Homs and Rable. All of the refugees escaped Syria and arrived from five months to one week ago. They said Caritas was the first NGO to visit them. They did not plan to flee into Lebanon. But because their homes were shelled or because one of their relatives or friends were killed, they got scared and escaped as soon as they could. As a result, most of them came with nothing except the clothes they were wearing at the time. Now, they have found [...]

Caritas aids Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan

By |20 February 2012|

As violence in Syria continues, thousands of its people have streamed into the neighbouring countries of Lebanon and Jordan. “Syrians are approaching Caritas offices on a daily basis, asking for help,” according to a recent Caritas Jordan field report. “Every day, there are new Syrians crossing the border into Jordan.” Governments, charities, and host families are struggling to find housing, food and school space for the refugees. In Lebanon, “the majority of refugees are staying in host families that are already poor and living in difficult conditions,” says Najla Chahda of the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center. “As a result, many hygiene problems are appearing.” In both countries, Caritas is distributing essential items to refugee families. The Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center has given out blankets, underwear, baby items, and hygiene kits to thousands of people. Caritas Jordan is coordinating the distribution of milk and has started giving aid parcels to Syrian families [...]

Caritas assessing needs of Syrian refugees

By |15 June 2011|

Caritas Turkey is sending a delegation today to the border region of Hatay to gather information about the Syrian refugees who have crossed the border following the crisis in their country. Thousands of refugees fled to Turkey and also to Lebanon following military operations in their country as a result of recent popular unrest. "Caritas is collecting basic information regarding the humanitarian needs of the population in coordination with the government and other national and international aid agencies,” says Joseph Farah, president of Caritas Middle East and North Africa (MONA). Reports say there are around 5,000 refugees in the camps run by the Turkish Red Crescent and the government in the region of Hatay and it seems that it is mainly vulnerable population, elderly, women and children. Recent clashes in the Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughour have caused further increase in the number of people seeking refuge in Turkey. The Syrian Government is [...]

Lebanon Migration Center

By |29 August 2010|

Starting with a small team of three people in 1994, the Caritas Migration Centre today helps thousands of foreigners living in Lebanon. In spite of political and economic difficulties, Lebanon hosts many refugees in need of protection and better living conditions. Palestinians, Sudanese, and tens of thousands of Iraqis are now in the country.. Caritas Lebanon provides help, legal council and assistance, medical aid, and support with the education of children. The outburst of violence in Iraq in 2003 initiated a surge of refugees into the country, so that Caritas Lebanon quickly had to develop its capabilities and today there are six centres dedicated to help the Iraqis. The Centre is also very active in the protection and the defence of the rights of women who have come to Lebanon as domestic workers. Originating in Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Ethiopia, they are sometimes the victims of ill treatment. Caritas helps the victims and also [...]

No domestic bliss for migrants in Lebanon

By |29 August 2010|

Aneesa*, 23, arrived in Lebanon during the 2006 war with Israel. She left her home in the Philippines to become a domestic worker with a family. With battles being fought on the streets of Beirut, Aneesa was very afraid and wanted to go back home after just two weeks. It was too difficult to leave so Aneesa had to stay with the family that had been assigned to her by an agency. Very soon, her concerns about the war outside dimmed in comparison to her own personal conflict, which saw her the victim of violence and abuses at the hands of her employers. “The Mister slapped me and even touched me. He wanted to find out if I was a virgin and single. I begged him not to touch me, but he was very strong and I was frightened,” said Aneesa. As time passed, the list of abuses grew longer. Aneesa was hit, [...]

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