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Civil war since March 2011 in Syria has displaced 7 million people, more than 2 million of them to neighbouring countries. Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is partnering with Caritas Lebanon to help support some of the 1.2 million Syrian refugees living in a country with a population the size of New Zealand.
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Thanks to your support and that of the New Zealand Aid Programme, we have remitted $305,000 through Caritas Lebanon. They are providing healthcare, food, fuel, counselling, blankets, clothes and shelter for refugees from all religious backgrounds, as well as support for host communities under stress. More is needed.
The President of Caritas Lebanon, Fr. Simon Faddoul, says their role is to stand by refugees. 'People don’t just need material aid, they also need affection. Our Caritas workers listen to their pain and that regenerates hope in them. ...I’m amazed by the resilience of the Syrian refugees. Their unrelenting human spirit gives hope back to us.'
Caritas Lebanon’s work represents part of a region-wide Caritas response supporting vulnerable people within Syria and in other neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR has appealed for 'massive international support' to help neighbouring countries deal with the crisis.
Pope Francis, Caritas workers and Church leaders in the region have called for peace and negotiations – not further arms and military intervention. ‘The only road to peace is dialogue. War will not take us anywhere,’ says the President of Caritas Syria and Chaldean Catholic Bishop of Aleppo, Antoine Audo. Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand has also written with other agencies to our government.
Sheltering refugees in Syria - a New Zealander's insight
Forgotten Voices: An insight into older persons among refugees from Syria in Lebanon - Caritas Lebanon August 2013 report on the needs of this often forgotten population.
Syria crisis - our hardest task - Caritas' regionwide response