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Christian Emigration Report: Lebanon and Syria

UNHCR has an important program with the United States and Canada. For example, last year 1,500 refugees were transferred to the United States. This year the U.S. accepted 2,000 refugees, regardless of their country of origin. Recently, 300 files of refugees were submitted to the United States and 250 were already accepted. Two commissions, one American, the second, Canadian, came to Lebanon in October 2001 to study the case of 600 refugees willing to move to the United States and 250 to Canada. On average, there is a period of 6 – 7 months between the time the file is submitted and the moment of departure. But in general, the refugees stay approximately two and a half years in Lebanon where they face different problems, including lodging, food or health care.

MECC is the operator of the UNHCR program. The refugees are received in the refugee center at MECC in order to overcome their daily problems and rely on themselves through awareness programs, monthly subsidies, school subsidies and activities for children.

On the other hand, the medico-social center, established in Sid El Baouchrieh in 1982, works on the integration of marginal residents groups of that region and their development to become self-independent. The center provides:

  1. Care for mothers and children with the help of five specialists and a nurse. In 1999, 4,116 persons benefited from the medical center, 1,630 persons had access to medication and 396 children less than five years old were vaccinated. In 2000, 400 students benefited from dental care and 328 children were vaccinated.
  2. Social care: provided by a social worker, it includes awareness sessions, home visits, integration of students, care for sick persons, handicapped and old people.
  3. Social activities: include training on sewing and embroidery for women, activities for children, health and social training for youth.

In addition, MECC provides educational help for the Sudanese people to help them continue their studies.

3. Chaldean Diocese of Beirut

The Chaldean Diocese of Beirut takes care, to the extent possible, of the Iraqi refugees in Lebanon, especially Chaldean Catholics. Most of those who enter Lebanon go to the diocese seeking help. They are lodged with the bishop until they are able to take care of themselves. Often, those people have family or relations already in Lebanon who might help them. They share the same apartments, mainly located in Zaatriyeh, Sed El Baouchrieh. The living conditions are very difficult and unhealthy due to the proximity of people and the large number of persons sharing the same rooms. Some of the refugees work illegally, mainly as daily laborers in order to support their families awaiting the possibility to leave Lebanon.

The Diocese helps them regardless of their rite through its Welfare Association headed by Dr. George Ezzo and six other members.

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