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Catholic Relief Services struggling to lead massive aid effort in Lebanon

.- Officials from the Maryland-based Catholic Relief Services announced last week that they, along with their oversees partner Caritas Lebanon, are leading a massive effort to provide aid to the hundreds of thousands of Lebanese displaced or cut off by the ongoing battle between Israel and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah group.

While many are calling the humanitarian situation in Lebanon dire, CRS stressed that their efforts are continuing to move at full power. The group announced that they have provided aid to over 85,000 so far and hope to be able to help 130,000-140,000 more in the coming weeks and months.

The group said that Caritas Lebanon has 36 offices spread throughout Lebanon staffed by a 7,000 person-strong volunteer force. CRS added however, that they are still in need of numerous supplies like water, medicine, clothing, food, mattresses and diapers.

Adib Faris, CRS’s Beirut Security Manager said that  “Distribution of these relief supplies proves incredibly difficult each day because a humanitarian corridor still does not exist…CRS and Caritas staff are working around the clock to provide assistance in any way they can, but the job is getting more arduous by the day. Our relief convoys are particularly vulnerable and may be targeted at any time.”

Catholic Relief Services reported that some 900,000 people have been displaced since the beginning of hostilities in mid-July. That amounts to almost 25% of Lebanon’s total population.

Among the displaced not included in that statistic are some 100,000 migrant workers whom the Caritas staff are trying to assist back to their home countries.

“We are coordinating buses for transportation and food parcels for the journey from Beirut to Damascus,” explained Najla Chahda, who is director of the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center. “We are also negotiating with airlines to provide airway tickets from Syria to their countries of origin.”

The government of Lebanon has even called on Caritas’ migrant office to help with the care and movement of some 600 migrant prisoners displaced by the fighting.

For more information or to make donations to relief efforts, visit www.crs.org.

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