07/24/2012, 00.00
SYRIA - LEBANON

Caritas Lebanon: influx of desperate Syrian refugees

Over 47 thousand people are living in makeshift camps and tents, where there is a high risk of epidemics. Their conditions are terrible. To date, the Lebanese government will not grant permission for a refugee camp.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - "The situation in the refugee camps on the border with Syria, is terrible and getting worse day by day. Thousands of refugees are crossing the border trying to escape from the Syrian hell. Most are women and children. The suffering of these people is enormous, wherever you go you hear cries of despair, hatred, revenge, many feel abandoned by God. " This is what Fr. Simon Faddoul, President of Caritas Lebanon tells AsiaNews. The priest speaks of more than 47 thousand refugees who have sought shelter in the Bekaa Valley and in makeshift camps on the northern border between Syria and Lebanon. They come mostly from the Sunni-majority provinces of Homs and Hama, the most affected by the war between the regime and rebels. For several weeks many of the Muslims who have fled are Alawites along with small groups of Christians from Damascus and Aleppo. Today, over 8 thousand people have crossed the border.

According to Fr. Faddoul most of the refugees are Sunni Muslims. Only 5% are Christian.

"Our volunteers are always on alert - he says - because these people need everything: clothes, water, food, medicine, blankets. For political reasons the government does not authorize the construction of refugee camps, forcing people to find shelter in old abandoned houses, shacks, makeshift tents. " To help the Syrian refugees, Caritas and other NGOs have set up several collection centers across the Bekaa valley and a mobile clinic dedicated to the care of the wounded.

The priest said that hundreds of foreign volunteers came to Lebanon to support the local Caritas, but without the refugee camps it is impossible to organize aid. "Anyone who crosses the border goes to our centers and plants their tents there. In these days we have asked the government permission to increase our space for at least the distribution of aid, to prevent overcrowding and the outbreak of epidemics."

Fr. Faddoul invites Western countries not to forget the Syrian people and to press for an immediate cease-fire. "The situation is irreversible. Many fear an escalation which will be almost impossible to escape. We must try to be ready for any eventuality because we do not know what will happen in the future." (SC)

 

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