“This is a nightmare. We will wake up soon to find ourselves in our beloved Syria,” said Ismail Ahmad Al Ajrab, a 30 year old refugee from the Syrian city of Homs. “I feel sometimes that this is all just a dream, but then the difficulties hit you and I know it is our reality now.” Syrian refugees are streaming across the border into Jordan, fleeing the 22-month-old uprising. More than 26,500 have crossed over the border since 1 January, almost double the figures for December. Tens of thousands more are waiting to cross to join the 300,000 refugees already in the county. Ismail fled eight months ago with his wife, Jihan, and their three boys: Rafiq, 6, Mashaal, 4, and one-year old Yousef. “I was under arrest for 4 months in Syrian. Through a miracle, I managed to escape with my family to Jordan,” he said. Once in Jordan, he learned [...]
Caritas teams in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey are providing humanitarian aid to over 100,000 people affected by the escalating Syrian conflict. Caritas has launched international appeals for all four countries, which combined total €5 million. (Read: Overwhelming humanitarian crisis within Syria) Conditions for ordinary people in Syria are deteriorating rapidly with a lack of food , clean water, shelter and medical care. The violence has left tens of thousands of people dead and more than 2.5 million people in need of urgent aid. More than 1.5 million forced from their homes remain within Syria. Families sleep outdoors, in abandoned schools or in makeshift camps. The economy has collapsed and savings have been spent long ago. Providing aid is difficult and dangerous, but Caritas has been able to carry on its work and will provide winter fuel, blankets, warm clothes, heaters and rent subsidies in Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Hassakeh. Read how Caritas has [...]
Violence in Syria has left tens of thousands of people dead and more than 2,5 million people in need of urgent aid. Caritas teams in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey are providing humanitarian aid to over 100,000 people. Caritas has launched appeals totalling 5 million Euro to help them.
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, [...]
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 [...]
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.”
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.
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 [...]
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 [...]