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CNEWA Launches Lebanese Relief Fund

20 Jul 2006 – NEW YORK – Catholic Near East Welfare Association has launched an emergency appeal to aid Lebanese families displaced by the shelling of southern Lebanon and Beirut’s southern suburbs. More than 500,000 people (13 percent of Lebanon’s population of 3.9 million) have thus far fled; some 30,000 families have found shelter in schools in the regions of Baabda, Chouf, Jbeil, Kesserwan and Metn. An additional 150,000 people have fled the country.

CNEWA’s Beirut-based staff has surveyed displacement centers in Jbeil, Kesserwan and Metn and report urgent need for drinking water, powdered milk, blankets, canned food, soap, detergents and sponge mattresses. Within the next 10 to 15 days, critical shortages of fuel oil and gasoline, food supplies and drinking water will impact the entire country – Lebanon is cut off from the rest of the world.

“Stores of canned foods, powdered milk, detergents and soaps are available at cost for relief purposes, but supplies are dwindling fast,” said Mr. Issam Bishara, CNEWA’s Regional Director for Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. “Most of the displaced are farmers with little savings who fled their communities with nothing but what they were wearing.”

CNEWA’s Secretary General, Msgr. Robert L. Stern, who is also President of the Pontifical Mission, the Holy See’s relief and development agency for the Middle East, has made an initial release of $25,000 with more to follow.

Since the end of Lebanon’s civil war in 1991, CNEWA has sponsored a nationwide community revitalization program, working closely with the nation’s Christian, Druze and Muslim community leaders to assess community needs; build homes, clinics and classrooms; restore village agricultural infrastructure and provide fresh water and environment-friendly waste management. In 2005, CNEWA gave $3,373,457 to support these projects.

Founded in 1926 by Pope Pius XI, CNEWA is a special agency of the Vatican providing support to the churches and peoples of the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe. Its projects include needy child, seminarian and religious sister sponsorship programs; village redevelopment; health care and education; and public awareness and interreligious dialogue programs.

Contributions, which are tax-deductible to the full extent of law, can be sent by mail to CNEWA, 1011 First Avenue, New York, NY 10022-4195, or through our web site