07/02/2021, 16.57
LEBANON
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Card Al-Rahi urges solution for the country's problems

In the wake of his visit to the Vatican, the Maronite patriarch said that he asked the Pope to meet Lebanese politicians and Muslim spiritual leaders. Hezbollah and Lebanon's neutrality were also discussed. Meanwhile, UNICEF raises the alarm about the plight of the country’s children: 30 per cent are suffering from hunger.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – The Vatican wants to explore all diplomatic channels to find a solution to Lebanon's problems, Maronite Patriarch Card Beshara Al-Rahi said in interviews with Lebanese TV networks.

The prelate used this occasion to call again on Lebanese leaders to heed the conclusions reached at the meeting held yesterday in Rome between Lebanon’s Christian leaders and Pope Francis. Speaking about the issues discussed, Card al-Rahi said that they included Hezbollah and Lebanon’s neutrality.

The Patriarch also asked the Pope “to invite Christian political leaders and Muslim spiritual leaders to meet in the Vatican”, noting that he was personally ready to “call them one by one” to implement the conclusions reached at the Rome meeting.

As for who is responsible for the country’s crippling economic crisis and political paralysis, the cardinal said that “everyone is violating the constitution, including the President of the Republic. But I'm not asking for his fall because he's not solely responsible. Everybody is.”

In a tweet yesterday about the meeting held in the Vatican, President Michel Aoun said: “Our call together, Christians and Muslims, is to consolidate the values of truth, justice, balance and mutual respect that consolidate our national unity, so that together we may return to our homeland its unique message of coexistence, in its surroundings and in the world.”

For his part, former Sunni Prime Minister Saad Hariri also spoke about the Day of Reflection and Prayer for Lebanon. “It is not surprising that the Vatican has Lebanon in its heart,” he said. “Our hope is that the meeting will be successful and that our country will enjoy the Pope's visit as promised.”

All the above notwithstanding, Lebanon’s deep crisis continues to get worse. UNICEF released a report today on the consequences of the collapsing economy on children, underscoring how serious the situation.

According to the findings, more than 30 per cent of children in Lebanon are going hungry, while 77 per cent of households do not have enough money to buy enough food.

The situation is particularly bad for about 1.5 million Syrian refugees who are still in the country, making up about 12 per cent of the resident population.

According to the UNICEF study, 15 per cent of Lebanese families are sending their children to work rather than school, so that they can earn something for the family.

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