The Advent and Christmas Appeal launched by the Church of Ireland’s Bishops’ Appeal for World Aid and Development, in the last days of November, focuses on the desperate situation in the Middle East. No-one will be surprised by this – we only have to watch news updates on our TV screens, or news apps on our phones to see day by day stories of those whose lives have been destroyed since the October 7th massacre carried out by Hamas, and the actions of Israel in Gaza where thousands have been killed and injured, and according to the UN over a million have been forced to leave their homes.
Among those working with displaced people in the region is a Tearfund project in Lebanon – through a local partner. In addition to the escalation of violence between Israel and Gaza there was an increase in tensions and violent incidents along the Israel-Lebanon border.
Irish troops are currently stationed in the area, running Camp Shamrock, a UN peacekeeping base close to the Lebanon-Israel border. They are there to try to keep the peace in the face of regular clashes and a deteriorating security situation between the Israeli Defence Forces, Hezbollah and other armed groups.
As fears grow of the conflict spreading into Lebanon, many thousands of people have already been displaced, and need emergency support and aid. From food to mattresses to medicines – th
ose fleeing their homes have nothing and need emergency help simply to survive.
One displaced person from a village on the border, now in Lebanon with his family, said: “It was a difficult decision to leave. My home and my work are there, and I don’t know if it will still be there when I get back – we have no idea. Our lives are in that village.
“Everything here – the cleaning supplies, the blankets – is helpful. But the best thing is the mattresses – they are the perfect thing to give to people who are displaced.”
Speaking in early November, one of the project volunteers at the emergency supplies centre explained: “What happened recently in Israel and
Gaza and the consequences of it are making the situation even harder for the Lebanese. The people who live in villages near the border have been especially affected and had to flee to Beirut.
“In the first weeks of the conflict alone about 19,000 people were displaced and the ones who stayed lived in constant fear. Bombs were falling on them and they lost all their harvest, including the harvest of olives on which they heavily rely economically because the crops were contaminated with white phosphorus.”
Your generosity this Advent in response to this appeal for the crisis in the Middle East will make an incredible difference to people in great need, and make sure that they know they are not forgotten.
Online donations to Bishops’ Appeal can be made at https://store.ireland.anglican.org/donations/the-bishops-appeal and further details about how to give through parish collections, or by cheque or bank transfer, are available at https://bishopsappeal.ireland.anglican.org/give
With thanks to Tearfund for photography.