LEBANON – Help to care for Iraqi refugees in the country
Lebanon faces huge challenges at the present time. This small country of just 4.5 million people has had to find space for no fewer than 1.1 million refugees. In fact this number includes only those refugees officially registered by the international agencies. The real figure is almost certainly much higher than this.
Every day more refugees continue to arrive in Lebanon from Syria and Iraq. More often than not, their dreams of a better life here are rapidly devastated. For while they have at least saved their lives, they very soon find themselves confronted with immense difficulties in simply living and surviving. Astronomical rents are demanded, even for the smallest and most miserable of living accommodation; there is no work; medical treatment is expensive and indeed virtually unaffordable for most refugees. If people try to move elsewhere within Lebanon, they can be arrested and imprisoned as illegal immigrants. Many of them had false expectations of what was awaiting them abroad.
In the capital Beirut the Chaldean Catholic eparchy is striving to take care of the Iraqi families, most of whom have fled here from Mosul and the Plain of Niniveh from the advancing IS fighters. The eparchy provides people with the basic necessities, helps them look for work, and also ministers to them pastorally. For example, the children can prepare for their First Holy Communion and there are other catechetical classes for children and young people, plus pastoral and social services for women and many other services besides. Last year ACN gave 30,000 Euros towards the cost of this pastoral and human support for the Iraqi refugees. For example, we helped to supply catechetical material, including audiovisual equipment and materials.
Chaldean Bishop Michel Kassarji of Beirut has thanked ACN for all the help he has already received, and in advance,for the help he is still to receive. “We pray to Christ our Lord, the Good Samaritan, to pour out his graces on you in rich measure and bless you, and to reward you, and all those who have contributed to this wonderful work of charity, a hundredfold for the good you have done.” At the same time he has asked us to help his community with additional aid for food and other necessities. We have promised him 10,000 Euros.