‘Our first concern is that nobody must feel hungry, so we will provide the poor with food and medicines’.
“Our first concern is that nobody must feel hungry, so we will provide the poor with food and medicines; families without any monthly income will come first”, says the director of Caritas Lebanon, Carmelite Fr. Michel Abboud, reporting on the situation in Lebanon at the time of Covid-19. The religious has officially been director since March 31 but has been at work since November 2019, when he was elected during the 53rd assembly of Catholic patriarchs and bishops in Lebanon. According to data provided to Fides by Caritas, there are over 12,500 families who need support and assistance to survive. Currently, 1,200 volunteers together with 750 Caritas operators have distributed more than 2,000 food portions, traveling between the different regions of Lebanon.
“Since the beginning of the crisis linked to the coronavirus emergency, Caritas has launched an appeal for solidarity, making available a special telephone line to collect donations: the number of calls has exceeded 33,000 in two weeks”, notes Fr. Abboud. Lebanon has managed to contain the devastating effect of Covid-19 by imposing the isolation of the country for over a month; however, the political and socio-economic emergency that has gripped the country for months has only increased the number of extremely poor families.
“Even the health care centers, located in the poorest areas of the country, continue to operate with reduced hours to guarantee support not only to the Lebanese but also to Syrian refugees and anyone in need. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic and, subsequently, to the restrictive measures imposed by the State, mobile clinics only provide drugs to those who book them in advance, waiting to provide emergency free medical services in the future, interrupted by the emergency”, explains the director to Agenzia Fides.
Caritas Lebanon had launched many initiatives and projects, in collaboration with various ecclesiastical, media, and state bodies, such as fundraisers and legal assistance to the most marginalized. “The crisis will continue, the pain will increase, poverty will worsen and Caritas will not be able to satisfy everyone’s needs. But we will try with all our strength, by raising our voice, to ask for help and to urge people of goodwill to bring hope to all needy families”, concludes Father Michel.