ASIA/LEBANON - The president of Caritas Lebanon: the international community has to open refugee camps in Syria

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Beirut (Agenzia Fides) - "The number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon has reached an unsustainable threshold for Lebanon, equal to 25/30 per cent of the population present on the national territory. The global and regional powers, instead of providing weapons to those who kill, should focus their interventions on this emergency". This is what was said to Fides Agency by the Maronite priest Paul Karam, President of Caritas Lebanon. Fr. Karam talks about the proposal relaunched by the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai in his recent speeches in Geneva: "In Syria", explains the Maronite priest, "there are large regions which are not affected by the conflict, where refugee camps can be set up or centers for aid and assistance, also in the border area between Lebanon and Syria. So, with the substantial assistance of the community and of international organizations, processes and emergencies that now seem out of control can be handled".
In recent days, UN officials have confirmed that Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon have exceeded the figure of one million. According to the president of Caritas Lebanon, the actual figures are much more alarming: "The Syrian refugees who fled the war" refers Fr. Karam, "are at least a million and a half, to whom must be added the half a million Palestinian refugees. For a small country like Lebanon this number is intolerable, which puts pressure on the already fragile social system. Most of the refugees are Muslims, and this destabilizes the delicate demographic balance in Lebanon. The impact of these flows can be seen in the economic crisis, in the lack of work, in schools, in hospitals, and also with regards to security: in recent months, out of eight people arrested in Lebanon for criminal actions, eight are Syrians".
Caritas takes care of 200 thousand refugees directly and it assists 55 thousand with regards to healthcare. "But we cannot intervene when it comes to political and geo- political factors that generate the Syrian humanitarian disaster. The great leaders have to face these problems, who are all in various ways responsable of what is happening in Syria", said the president of Caritas Lebanon. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 10/04/2014)