Founded in 1972 in Sidon (southern Lebanon) during the war, Caritas Lebanon was officially authorised in 1976, to serve the poorest without any discrimination, throughout Lebanon.
At the outset, it provided only humanitarian assistance but was obliged to intervene in various areas and diversified its activities. These include medical, social, educational and protection initiatives, assistance to refugees and migrants, emergency intervention and development.
The organisation provides curative and preventive health care via its primary healthcare centres throughout the country, while its mobile medical units roam the country in all directions, especially in rural areas.
Social work is one of the organisation’s priorities, aimed at promoting the dignity of the most vulnerable people. Several centres and projects have been set up for the protection and promotion of underprivileged children, as well as for children with specific needs. Moreover, various activities and clubs are dedicated to the elderly.
Caritas YOUTH is a movement that brings together volunteers from 14 to 34 years of age and works to spread the principles and values of the Catholic Church’s Social Teaching.
Via its Migrants Department, advocacy actions are carried out in collaboration with the Lebanese authorities, UN agencies, embassies and overseas delegations, so as to ensure that migrants’ rights are respected.
Caritas Lebanon is always ready to intervene in emergency situations. Therefore, since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in March 2011, it has provided sustained assistance to Syrian refugees.
Caritas Lebanon implements development projects in order to contribute to the development of the most vulnerable communities and individuals in rural areas by making them self-sufficient.
Caritas Lebanon works in cooperation with government ministries and authorities and various non-governmental organisations. At international level and beyond the Caritas Confederation network, several partnerships are in place with the European Union, UN agencies, USAID and other organisations.
The battle for Aleppo began in mid-2012. Fighting ended with the government taking control of the whole of the once divided Syrian city in December, 2016. One year after the end of hostilities, families are rebuilding their lives.
Caritas interviewed 288 Syrian refugee families in Beirut, Tripoli, and Saida. It found that refugee households paid an average $291 in rent and were forced to spend an average three-quarters (76%) of their total income on rental.
More than half of the Syrian refugees (56%) in Lebanon are under 18. While only one in ten was injured in the conflict before arriving in Lebanon, many of the child refugees show symptoms of trauma, including flashbacks and nightmares.
Caritas is a mission, not a job. Nirmala Wijesinghe who runs a Caritas safe house in Beiruit is one of the many staff and volunteers around the world who illustrate this through their constant dedication and hard work.