Caritas is scrambling to find housing for thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing to neighboring Lebanon because of ongoing violence between Syrian forces and armed rebels.
More than 1,000 people have made their way to the town of Qaa in the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon March 5. They are struggling in the region’s near-freezing temperatures.
Father Simon Faddoul, president of Caritas Lebanon, told Catholic News Service March 6 that “women and children and the elderly are coming out in the cold, with nothing but the clothes on their backs, to seek safety.”
“It’s very cold, and they have nothing,” he said.
Supporting this view is national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Lebanon, Father Paul Karam.
“We have direct experience of Christian families who have fled to Syria [from] the violence or the oppression of the regime,” Karam said.
“There are families who have relatives in Lebanon who have fled here and want to change their lives, looking for work. The Church’s response in Lebanon was the hospitality and care of these people: we host them in parishes, provide food and clothing, we assist them at an economic level and insert them into the social fabric.”
“We want to promote peace and encourage dialogue. As for the Christians, the danger that looms is a scenario like Iraq, where Christians are forced to flee the country. The risk is that a dictatorial regime is replaced with an Islamist type which imposes the Sharia.”
The U.N. refugee agency said that as many as 2,000 Syrians crossed into Lebanon March 5-6 to escape the violence that has claimed hundreds of lives.
Father Faddoul said most of the refugees arrived on foot from areas near the besieged city of Homs.
“Things are getting out of hand,” Faddoul added.
News category: World.