Posts Tagged ‘refugees’

Getting Refugee Children Back to School

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Dear Friend,

Zainab, 10, (L) Ola, 12, (C) and Evine, 12, Syrian refugees from Idlib and Aleppo provinces, attend a science class at the Good Shepherd Sisters Center in Deir al Ahmar, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. The Good Shepherd Sisters are supported by CRS funds. Photo by Sam Tarling for CRS

Syria refugees, from left, Evine, Ola and Zainab attend a science class at the Good Shepherd Sisters Center in Lebanon. Photo by Sam Tarling for CRS

There are many things we take for granted—water from our taps, food from the supermarket, a roof over our heads, a doctor to vaccinate our children. Yet these are often out of reach for the people served by Catholic Relief Services.

And there is another precious commodity I want to talk about this month—school.

Every September, as sure as water flows from the faucet, our children and grandchildren gripe as their vacation comes to an end and they must march into the hallways of education once again. But imagine if their school wasn’t there. Imagine if September came and went, and the school doors remained closed to our children.

The refugee crisis gripping our world makes that scenario a reality for so many children today. Millions are fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. Some have left their countries. Some have sought refuge within them. I learned so much about their plight this summer—visiting refugees in Lebanon, Greece and Serbia.


Lebanon Migrant Center Aids Iraqi Refugees

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Photojournalist David Snyder, on assignment for CRS, sent this report from Lebanon.

Iraqi Refugees

A view of the Zeatrieh neighborhood of Beirut, which has become a magnet for Iraqi refugees fleeing to Lebanon. Photo by David Snyder for CRS

I spent the day today in Beirut, meeting with Iraqi refugees receiving assistance through the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center. It’s not my first time here, nor is it my first time with the staff of the center. I was in Lebanon in 2006, when fighting between Israeli forces and Hezbollah militants displaced tens of thousands here. Caught up in the conflict, thousands of migrant workers, many of them Sri Lankan, flocked to the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center for help. For days I watched as the staff worked to process paperwork for panicked and frightened workers, seeking to flee the country.

Today the tide is moving in reverse. With support from Catholic Relief Services, Caritas is helping Iraqi refugees, headed through Lebanon, bound for anywhere but back to Iraq. I met families today in the neighborhood of Zeatrieh – a cramped network of side streets that houses hundreds of Iraqi families. Most have little, some have nothing, and almost all have overstayed the visas that helped them escape Iraq.

CRS On Chicago Public Radio: Iraqi Refugees In Egypt

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

CRS program manager Vivian Manneh discusses CRS’s work with Iraqi refugees in Egypt in this Chicago Public Radio podcast.

World Refugee Day: What is a refugee?

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

This Friday, June 20th, is World Refugee Day. This year, the theme is “protection.”

But who is a refugee? And why do they need protection? (more…)

Hope and Help For Iraqi Refugees

Friday, April 4th, 2008

Two Iraqi refugee boys outside a social services center in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo by David Snyder/CRS

Representatives from Catholic Relief Services are participating today in a forum at the National Press Club in Washington that is highlighting the plight of the 2 milliion Iraqis who have been displaced by the war. CRS is co-sponsor of the event, Villanova Law Schools Ryan Forum on Law and Public Policy.

Many Iraqi refugees have fled to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt, where they live as “illegal immigrants” and are unable to get jobs, schooling for their children or even basic medical care for their families. As they try to start new lives, they are forbidden to work in many cases, and shut out from services that citizens receive. These refugees wait out the days — hoping against hope that they’ll get visas to third countries.

Catholic Relief Services is working through our partners in the Middle East, like Caritas Lebanon, to provide food, medical care and help with rent to thousands of refugees. Mark Schnellbacher, our CRS Regional Director for the Middle East, and Najla Chadra of the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center, participated in today’s panel.

CRS is also working to bring this issue to greater visibility here in the United States, particularly among American Catholics. Our CRS Advocacy staff has kept our grassroots legislative network informed on this issue and urged them to support appropriate legislation addressing the crisis. Earlier this year, CRS sponsored a delegation of eight women religious to Syria and Lebanon, where they saw first-hand the conditions in which these Iraqi refugees live and the challenges they face. They returned to the U.S. and mobilized to raise awareness of Iraqi refugees’ suffering, speaking in their congregations, universities and the media, as well as briefing members of Congress. And after speaking here today, Najla is scheduled to speak about the situation for Iraqis in Lebanon to several more groups in the Northeast.

Speaking Out for Iraqi Refugees

Monday, February 11th, 2008

After a CRS-sponsored trip to Lebanon and Syria, eight women religious from the U.S. have mobilized to raise awareness of Iraqi refugees’ suffering.

The Catholic sisters, drawn from various religious orders, made home visits to Iraqis desperate for medical care, rent, jobs, and school for their children. They visited with Catholic Relief Services partners like Caritas Lebanon, learning more about day-to-day realities for the refugees. Returning in late January, the sisters have spoken to their congregations, universities and the media about what America can do to help Iraqis who fled the violence in their home country.

Last Wednesday, two of the nuns briefed approximately 75 congressional staffers on the needs of Iraqi refugees during a session in the Capitol Building. Simone Campbell, a Sister of Social Service, and Anne Curtis, a Sister of Mercy, shared stories of the Iraqi families they met, many of whom are not allowed by their host countries to work. Attendees included staffers from the offices of Senators Obama, McCain and Durbin.

The sisters urged Congress to increase funding for United Nations and other programs that help Iraqi refugees, as well as to accept more Iraqis as immigrants to the U.S. “Iraqis have run out of their savings and are getting desperate,” Sister Simone said in emailed bulletins during the January trip. “Some have decided to return to Iraq and have been killed. Others are trying to work in the underground economy” in their host countries, she continued.

The sisters will keep pressing for action. “We feel very good about the briefing,” said Sister Simone when Wednesday’s meeting concluded. “Iraqi needs are so great, and there are things our government can do to alleviate their suffering. Somebody is listening.”