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”.
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.”
Across the world, vulnerable people—particularly women—are exploited when they go abroad as domestic workers. With no laws to protect them, housemaids suffer abuse, withheld wages and more. Caritas Internationalis has participated in an international advocacy campaign for the adoption of an ILO Convention regulating domestic work. The Convention (No. 189) with an attached recommendation (No. 201) was adopted on 16 June 2011 during the International Labour Conference in Geneva. It was a major breakthrough and the recognition of domestic work as real work. Caritas has joined with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) to promote the ratification and implementation of Convention No. 189. The ITUC has launched the “12 by 12” worldwide campaign to have 12 countries, as a start, ratify Convention No. 189 by the end of 2012.
The 12 December 2012 is a worldwide day of action in support of decent working conditions for domestic workers, both adults and minors. Caritas has joined up with the International Trade Union Federation in asking 12 governments to ratify International Labour Organisation (ILO) ‘Convention 189’ by this date. Five countries, Uruguay, Philippines, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Bolivia, have so far ratified the convention. Ratification means that domestic workers have real access to redress mechanisms, when their contracts or their rights in general are not respected. It’s also a deterrent for employment agencies and employers who do not play by the rules. On 12.12.2012 we want added pressure on those government who have not ratified to do so and ensure millions domestic workers worldwide can now look forward to being treated with the respect they deserve. Caritas members in Latin America for example are urging all people who employ a domestic worker or who [...]
Now there’s a ceasefire in Gaza, assisting communities in the Strip is of the highest priority. The week-long war between Gaza and Israel has left many people in desperate need of medical items, drinking water and blankets, among other things. Caritas Jerusalem’s health team - two coordinators, medical staff and two psychiatrists – are making an assessment of the emergency needs of Gazans. Caritas Jerusalem’s work will be mainly through its mobile clinic, the medical centre and also through the 180 community agents who they trained to help with the local population’s health needs. Post-war Gaza: What have we learned? Visit Caritas Jerusalem's website | Press Release (19 November 2012) Listen to an interview with Vatican Radio in French of Bishop William Shomali, auxiliary bishop of Jerusalem.
Civil society leaders at global meeting point to co-responsibility with governments for solutions in labour migration, rights and development PORT LOUIS, Mauritius 22 November 2012- More than 800 representatives from civil society and governments from some 160 countries gathered in Mauritius this week to discuss changes needed in labour migration, protection of migrants, promotion of their rights and development.
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 [...]
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 [...]