mardi 29 août 2006

Caritas Helping War-torn Lebanese Resume Normal Lives

As the fragile ceasefire continues to hold, many of the nearly one million people displaced by the war in Lebanon have returned home, often finding their houses damaged or completely levelled. Caritas Lebanon and partners are moving full speed ahead with their efforts to ease the hardships caused the by conflict and to reintegrate displaced families back into their villages.

“Our main priorities now are on assisting people to resettle, as much as possible, giving priority to education and income-generating activities,” said George Khoury, executive director of Caritas Lebanon.

His comments came at the end of the Caritas partners’ meeting in Paris last week, which brought together representatives from Caritas member organisations actively involved in the large-scale relief efforts under way in the Middle East. During the two-day meeting, participants mapped out strategies for moving forward with the task of rehabilitating the war-ravaged country.

Caritas Lebanon is planning to provide 4,000 extremely vulnerable families with food parcels for a two-month period. With the school year fast approaching, financial support will be given to 4,000 families for tuition, registration fees, and educational materials.

The 34-day war also took its toll on people’s livelihoods. Caritas Lebanon will provide grants to farmers to enable them to buy the necessary tools and inputs to help kick-start agricultural activity, while 500 fisherfolk will receive financial assistance to cover the costs of fishing equipment. Assistance will be given to set up or restart small businesses such as handicrafts, electronics, and mechanics workshops. Caritas Lebanon will also help 500 families repair damaged homes.

The tenuous security situation, unexploded ordnance in bombed out villages and neighbourhoods, and the scale of the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts are some of the challenges the country is facing. The Caritas Confederation continues to work together to support Caritas Lebanon in its efforts to help those affected by the war resume their normal lives as soon as possible.

“We really appreciate our partners’ willingness to assist us. They understand what we are going through,” said Fr Louis Samaha, president of Caritas Lebanon, adding that Caritas’ work has “helped to build up solidarity within Lebanon – among Muslims and Christians.”

Source : Caritas Internationalis