Syria Genocide War Crimes

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Syrian refugee families

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World Refugee Day
Dear Karen,
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CRS is providing food, relief items, medical care and education to Syrian refugee settlements in Lebanon. Photo by Joseph Gharbi for CRS
Last week, His Holiness Pope Francis renewed his call for a peaceful end to the ongoing violence in Syria. Catholic Relief Services Board Chairman Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas traveled with a CRS delegation to Lebanon, a small country coping with a staggering influx ofSyrian refugees, to better understand the needs of families who have had to leave everything behind for their own safety. Today we mark World Refugee Day, and Bishop Kicanas shares his thoughts on his trip.
June 7
It is clear that the situation in Syria, and in the region, is precarious. Those we spoke with see the humanitarian situation worsening, and there is a critical need for more international assistance. The number of Syrians being displaced within the country continues to mount, as do the number of people crossing neighboring borders seeking security.
In Syria, some are living in parks and others in abandoned buildings. In Aleppo, where hundreds of thousands have been left homeless, we heard of two unfinished buildings near the center of the city that are refuge for 3,500 people. These buildings are not equipped with electricity, water or a sewage system.One can only imagine the conditions Syrians are living in.
At the end of the day, we met with CRS staff in Beirut: What an amazing group of people. They are of different faith traditions, from different countries, some local, some from elsewhere, but all have a deep concern and interest in alleviating the suffering experienced by so many. We prayed together in the morning and shared supper together in the evening. They are such a blessing and a gift, representing our Church in serving others with distinction.
June 11
The final day of our visit was a trip to the field, where we witnessed firsthand the sites where Syrian refugee families, assisted by Caritas Lebanon with CRS support, are trying to survive. [We visited] a family of 27 people who had been given space behind a Lebanese family’s house to build a lean-to. Six women, most of whom have lost their husbands, and 20 young children live in one room, consisting of a frame of scrap wood covered in plastic. The group carried their elderly, diabetic mother—in a stretcher made of sheets— over the mountain that forms the border.
I felt so helpless at the end of the day, wondering what could help bring some comfort to these suffering people. The families we saw are but a small number of the thousands of families that have fled across borders neighboring Syria or have been displaced within Syria. There is a massive need for immediate help. While Caritas, with CRS support, is providing Syrian refugees with limited food, relief items, medical care and education support, it is critical that these efforts be expanded to meet overwhelming and quickly expanding needs.

Looking into the faces of the Syrian children tugs at the heart. Their smiles and playfulness hide the dire future that awaits them if this situation cannot be resolved.
God bless you,
Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas
Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas
Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas
Board Chairman
Catholic Relief Services
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