Salesians Sheltering Refugees in Lebanon

Situation Around El Houssoun Chaotic, Says Priest

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EL HOUSSOUN, Lebanon, JULY 24, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Salesians' Don Bosco House at El Houssoun, a hilly district in the province of Jubeil, north of Beirut, has opened its doors to refugees.



More than 200 refugees have taken shelter at the house, some 35 kilometers (21 miles) north of the Lebanese capital.

Meanwhile, the International Volunteer Service for Development (VIS) and the Don Bosco Network (DBN) have begun collecting funds and have already sent the first €20,000 ($25,370), according to the Salesian News Agency.

"There are lots of children and women, some elderly, two well on in their pregnancy and two men with heart conditions. Many of these people are under shock from the fear they experienced," said Father Dany El Hayek, the Salesian in charge of the Don Bosco House.

"The bombardment is reaching further afield to places that previously were thought to be out of range," the priest noted. "In the next few hours we are expecting a new wave of refugees and it will become more difficult to find a place for them.

"We are ready to set up a campsite with more than 200 tents since we have the space on the land around our house with a nearby pine wood. There are also 170 being housed in the village as well as in the neighboring area. The situation is chaotic."

Ill-prepared

"The state of Lebanon is trying to get itself organized but so far it has proved ill-prepared and incapable of managing such a disastrous situation," explained the Salesian. "There are a number of organizations trying to come to terms with the emergency but for the present they have not succeeded in providing the necessary mattresses.

"We need food, medicine and clothes. And we thank VIS and DBN for their support and for the help they have sent."

Antonio Raimondi, president of VIS and vice president of DBN, said: "There is no doubt that the presence in our Salesian houses of Muslims and Christians underlines our neutral approach in the face of elementary basic human needs.

"Throughout the Middle Eastern region we have always been a vital force for interreligious and interethnic dialogue. We hope that the humanitarian corridor will be opened as soon as possible."