28 January 2015
A nun at the hospital run by the Sisters of the Cross in Deir el Kamar, Lebanon, interacts with a child on 23 January. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Msgr. John E. Kozar, CNEWA’s president, spent some time recently in Lebanon and Jordan and spoke with CNS about what he saw:
Economically strapped Lebanon is now hosting more than 1.5 million refugees — mostly Syrians — putting a strain on the country’s infrastructure and resources for its existing population of around 4 million people.
“So much of our energy is a crisis intervention status, keeping people from starving, from freezing to death with these cold spells, keeping people from getting very sick and even dying from simple maladies and physical problems that can develop into something serious,” said Msgr. John Kozar, president of Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
“But because of the uncertainty of the (refugee) crises, we have to look at what will be the next level of assistance .... There’s housing issues, educational issues, longer-term health issues, post-traumatic issues,” he said, adding that counseling is needed for children that have been through “horrible” circumstances.
Msgr. Kozar — joined by Carl Hétu, national director of CNEWA Canada, and Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longueuil, Quebec, co-treasurer of the Canadian Catholic Conference of Bishops — spoke with Catholic News Service at CNEWA's Beirut office about their 19-23 January visit to Lebanon. Before arriving in Lebanon, they visited Jordan; in both countries, they are helping Syrian and Iraqi refugees and the communities that support them.
...The delegation’s itinerary in Lebanon included visiting a school run by the Good Shepherd Sisters for refugee children in Deir al-Ahmar in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, near the Syrian border, and meeting refugees in a nearby tent settlement camp. There they experienced firsthand the sisters” witness of God’s love to the mostly Muslim refugee population.
“They just have this radiance of love that’s infectious,” Msgr. Kozar said of the sisters.
Bishop Gendron credited the sisters for the welcoming way the refugees accepted the delegation and invited them into their tents.
“They realized that they are being loved,” he said of the refugees. “And so it opens up all doors.”
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