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Catholic Missions Aid Beirut in Blast Aftermath

For five years Anthony Nasrani has joined other Lebanese Christians in supplying food to Christian refugees who come to Lebanon to escape war and persecution.

Now, following the devastating explosions in the capital city, Beirut, earlier this month that decimated the country’s food supply, his own Lebanese people need assistance themselves.

“The question here is if the Lebanese don’t have food and they can’t produce anything anymore, what about the refugees?” asked Nasrani, a 20-year-old college student who serves as day manager of Apostolate of Our Lady of Hope/St. Rafka Mission of Hope and Mercy, an apostolate located in Beirut and in Lakewood, Colorado, which has helped Christian refugees from Syria, Iraq and needy families in the Lebanese hill country since 2014.

Two explosions of more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate in Beirut’s port on Aug. 4 killed at least 178, injured 6,000 and affected over half the city, especially a Christian district. Amid the vast humanitarian crisis that has left 300,000 homeless, the beleaguered country’s government announced Aug. 18 a new two-week lockdown and curfew to stem surging COVID-19 cases would start Aug. 21.

Several of Nasrani’s relatives were injured in the blasts, and one of his friends died. During the days after the explosion, he sensed “an image of Jesus when he was on the cross and he died for us,” he said. “I am really sad for this.”

Among many governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and agencies supplying aid to Lebanon, St. Rafka is seeking financial support from Christians in the U.S. to continue providing food, hygiene and other necessary items to refugees as well as to Lebanese families in need or displaced by the explosions.  

Though some were damaged by the explosions, churches representing some of the 18 religious factions in Lebanon are mobilizing to distribute aid to those already suffering from the effects of COVID-19 and the country’s economic downturn.

Their homes and livelihoods damaged by the blasts, Christians, who make up about one-third of the population, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, feel the strain, as the Middle Eastern Christian presence continues to decline.

Read more at National Catholic Register

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