Lebanon has been enduring a severe and prolonged economic depression, and it is hard to imagine that the situation could still get worse. Yet it does, every single day, and an even bigger storm is coming.
After a relatively warm December, winter hit Lebanon and Syria hard in January and is expected to continue bringing heavy rains, hailstorms, and snow at higher altitudes. As many vulnerable families in both countries lack indoor heating, we are thankful for our local partners who have reached almost 10,000 families with winter items so far and helped rehabilitate 100 homes damaged in the Beirut explosion, among other much-needed assistance.
The coronavirus is now officially spreading through Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria, as well as in other countries in the Middle East. This follows a harsh winter and unprecedented economic and financial crises that have already severely impacted the most vulnerable.
The war in Syria is far from over. Since early December, over one million people from the Syrian province of Idlib have been displaced with nowhere to find refuge. In other places that are considered “safer”, humanitarian needs have never been greater.
The Syrian crisis has dragged hundreds of thousands of children away from their homes and communities, forcing them to live in places where they face harsh living conditions, are deprived of educational opportunities, and do not feel welcomed. In this challenging context, our partner churches are answering their calling to welcome vulnerable children and their families and care for them, giving them a chance at a more hopeful future.
Wave after wave of violence has threatened to extinguish the light of Christ in Iraq as the country has been vacated of over two thirds of its Christian population since the early 2000s. And yet, at least one pastor and his congregation can be highlighted as having stood firm in the face of the temptation to flee and chosen to shine as bright lights in the impending darkness.
Our small team from New Zealand comprised two dentists, one general practitioner and two Tearfund NZ staff members. This visit to Lebanon was saturated with history, culture, hospitality, and stories of the redemptive power of God’s love in the marginalized of Lebanese society.
It has been nine years. Nine years of crisis in Syria. Nine years of displacements. We hear more and more people say, “It is safer now; why don’t they go back? Even if we give them food today, they will still need food tomorrow”. Precisely!