Loading
Lebanese bishop appeals for Christian Syrian refugees
Thousands of Syrians streamed across a bridge over the Tigris River, entering Iraq on Thursday, August 15, 2013. Credit: UNHCR/G.Gubaeva.
Thousands of Syrians streamed across a bridge over the Tigris River, entering Iraq on Thursday, August 15, 2013. Credit: UNHCR/G.Gubaeva.

.- Christian refugees from Syria living in Lebanon need the support of their Western counterparts, according to an Eastern Catholic bishop who is himself a native of Syria.

“They live in rented homes, sometimes with multiple families in a single home or a set of rooms … most of these Christian families, however, are in need of the very basics of daily life – food, educational opportunities for their children, medical care,” Archbishop Issam John Darwish of the Melkite Greek Archeparchy of Zahle and Fourzol told the charity Aid to the Church in Need last month.

“Many of them are in bad shape, emotionally and materially – they left everything behind and came here with literally nothing. Jihadist rebels came to them at night and forced them to leave immediately – they are traumatized, because they were unable to mourn and pray for their dead. We try to support them emotionally and financially.”

These refugees are fleeing the now 33-month long Syrian civil war, which has forced 2.3 million Syrians to flee their homes for Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and elsewhere.

The war has internally displaced another 6.5 million, and more than 115,000 have died in the violence.

Archbishop Darwish explained that most of the refugees in camps run by the U.N. are Muslim, and that Christian refugees are reluctant to register themselves for benefits out of fear of identification and reprisal.

“They don’t want to be involved whatsoever in the war; they worry that their names will be given either to the Syrian government or the rebels … I don’t believe they have real reason to be afraid, however, and we have tried to help matters by organizing meetings between the families and representatives of the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.”

He explained that he had encouraged the agency to work directly with the Melkite Church, “but officials apparently are not too eager to do so, but we are making some progress.”

There are more than 800,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, a country home to fewer than 5 million people. Much of the Lebanese population is reluctant to provide new housing to refugees, fearing a sense of permanency.

According to a New York Times report of Dec. 11, the country has banned “box shelters,” housing units of plywood walls and zinc roofs which measure 250 square feet, “regarding them as a threat to this already fragile nation.”

Archbishop Darwish said “we help the poorer Christian families pay their rent,” adding that the archeparchy also tries “to find work for the young men and adults.”

In the Beqaa Valley, where Zahle is located, December brought freezing temperatures along with snow, rain, and high winds. Zahle itself is sheltering 800 Christian refugees.

Zahle is located within 15 miles of the Syrian border, where nationwide demonstrations sprang up March 15, 2011, protesting the rule of Bashar al-Assad, Syria's president. That April, the Syrian army began to deploy to put down the uprisings, firing on protesters.

The war is now being fought among the Syrian regime and various rebel groups, including moderates, Islamists, and Kurds.

Archbishop Darwish criticized the characterization of the Syrian uprising as part of an “Arab Spring” which toppled governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen.

“There is no Arab spring,” he said, “there is no push for democracy – it is a push for theocracy, as we saw with the revolution in Egypt that brought the Muslim Brotherhood into power. Jihadists from all over the world are coming into the region – just consider the various radical factions in Syria, like Al Nusra. So far, the moderate opposition to the old regimes has been weak.”

The archbishop indicated that “Christians have an important role to play” in the establishment of societies open to dialogue in the Middle East, saying, “what we can do is collaborate with moderate Muslims, here in Lebanon, in Syria, and in other countries of the region. Quietly, we have begun doing so, because there definitely are partners for dialogue within the Muslim community.”

Tags: Syria, Refugees


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
20

Liturgical Calendar

April 20, 2014

EASTER SUNDAY OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE LORD

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 24:13-35

Gospel
Date
04/20/14
04/19/14
04/18/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Second Reading:: Col 3:1-4
Gospel:: Jn 20:1-9

Homily of the Day

Lk 24:13-35

Homily
Date
04/20/14
04/19/14
04/18/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: