Beirut, Lebanon, Aug 1, 2006 / 22:00 pm
Amidst the continuing conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, the Salesian houses in Lebanon at Al Fidar and El Houssoun are providing hope and support to the refugees.
Speaking to the Salesian News Agency, Antonio Raimondi, President of the International Volunteer Movement for Development (VIS) and Vice President of the Don Bosco Network (DBN), said, “There are now almost a million displaced and fleeing people trying to escape the bombing. VIS and DBN continue to provide support for the centers in El Houssoun and El Fidar and we shall do so sending some of our experts to help the Salesian Communities as soon as possible,” he added.
According to Salesians in Lebanon, every day the situation in the centers is getting more complicated as is the work of the many local volunteers who are working non-stop to ensure the refugees get the first aid they need and to keep the children occupied. At El Fidar the Salesians are helping to care for the refugees now gathered together in four public schools to which others will soon be added. After a meeting with those responsible among the Shiite refugees the Salesians’ work team from Al Fidar VIS said there are at present in the region of Jbeil over 30,000 refugees of whom 50% are children and youngsters, and the number rises every day.
There are 14 centers taking in refugees. The rest are scattered all over the place, staying with families, in sports facilities, small hotels, and many in tents among the trees on the hillside. The Salesian team is especially following up this last group since they are the ones in most need of assistance. At the same time the work team of the Salesians from Al Fidar and VIS are making plans for what will need to be done once the conflict comes to an end.
“At present, just at the El Houssoun center there are 30 families - a total of 130 people,” said Fr. Dany El Hayek, the Salesian in charge of the Don Bosco House in El Houssoun, “and another group of 44 families are totally dependent on the help the Salesians are able to provide.”
Other families in the village are providing accommodation for over 250 displaced people, while in the 15 neighboring villages there is a great network of support.