Caritas Shelters Syrian Refugees
Syrian refugees receive humanitarian aid from an Islamic organization in Tripoli, Lebanon, 6 March. As temperatures drop to near freezing in Lebanon, Caritas is working to find shelter for Syrian refugees, mostly women and children. (photo: CNS/Omar Ibrahim, Reuters)
07 Mar 2012 By Doreen Abi Raad
BEIRUT (CNS) — Church aid workers scrambled
to find housing for hundreds of Syrian refugees who have
fled to neighboring Lebanon because of ongoing violence
between Syrian forces and armed rebels.
About 200 families — more than 1,000 people
overall — made their way to the border town of Qaa in the
Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon March 5 and were
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
“It’s very cold, and they have nothing,” he said.
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.
“They are leaving the young men behind in Syria
to guard their houses” from attack, Father Faddoul said.
“These are people fleeing from war, their homes
under bombardment. Things are getting out of hand,” he
Before the latest surge, about 100 families had
fled to Lebanon in recent weeks and were receiving
assistance from Caritas, the priest said.
Father Faddoul estimated that about 40 of the
newly arrived families were Christian, while the rest were
“This has nothing to do with religion. Whenever
there is suffering, we have to be there with them and to
help them,” he said.
Caritas has deployed two social workers and
about 15 volunteers in Qaa. They have distributed 300
blankets and personal hygiene kits.
Father Faddoul said the availability of adequate
housing in the poverty-ravaged town of Qaa is limited.
About 30-35 refugees are crammed into rooms that are
about 126 square feet in size. Caritas is collaborating with
municipal officials to locate homes that three or four
families could share.
Caritas Lebanon has had a regular presence in the
Bekaa Valley, with coordinating programs in agriculture,
farming and irrigation to address the region's poverty in
“Now we have so many concerns, how to find
shelters, especially if the situation (in Syria) drags on,”
“We hope the situation doesn’t deteriorate
further,” he added.
In Ottawa, Ontario, Carl Hétu, national director of
the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, said his
agency was monitoring the situation of Christians in Syria.
Tags: Syria Lebanon Middle East Arab Spring Caritas Lebanon