ASIA/SYRIA - More than 2,000 new Syrian refugees in Lebanon: the hospitality of Christians

Beirut (Agenzia Fides) - Due to the persistent violence, the Syrian civil population flees to Lebanon: according to the UN, 2,000 new refugees have crossed the border over the past two days. In this phase, the Christian community in Lebanon is giving an example of hospitality and solidarity. Fr. Paul Karam, Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Lebanon explains to Fides: "We have direct experience of Christian families who have fled to Syria for the violence or the oppression of the regime. There are families who have relatives in Lebanon who have fled here and want to change their lives, looking for work. The Church's response in Lebanon was the hospitality and care of these people: we host them in parishes, provide food and clothing, we assist them at an economic level and insert them into the social fabric. The Syrian Christian families are divided into several parishes and dioceses. With regards to the non-Christian families we have no direct news, but we know that there are many in the North and the Lebanese government has asked the population to accept refugees". With regards to the Syrian crisis, Fr. Karam says: "As a Church we reiterate that we are against violence. We want to promote peace and encourage dialogue. As for the Christians, the danger that looms is a scenario like Iraq, where Christians are forced to flee the country. The risk is that a dictatorial regime is replaced with an Islamist type which imposes the sharia". For this reason, the Director adds, "the correct key to the reading is that of dialogue and peace, respect for dignity and human rights. Every political action must be inspired by the good of humanity and the civilian population, and not generated by particular interests of groups or nations". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 06/03/2012)