(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, President of Caritas Internationalis, visited Syrian refugees and migrant workers in Lebanon and urged the international community and political leaders to “set aside greed and self-interest” to solve Syria’s conflict for the sake of its “suffering” people.
Lebanon hosts over a million Syrian refugees, putting an enormous strain on a country of barely 4 million people. The European Union, in comparison, with more than 500 million people, regards the arrival last year of a million migrants and refugees as a major crisis.
Cardinal Tagle spoke to Susy Hodges during his visit about his impressions.
Cardinal Tagle spent four days in Lebanon to see how Caritas is helping refugees from Syria and Iraq with the provision of food, warm clothing, fuel, cash assistance, medical treatment and counselling. The Filippino Cardinal said he found it “upsetting” to meet and view at first hand the suffering of these Syrians forced to flee their “beloved homeland” and who are now living in exile, in poverty and uncertainty with most of their children missing out on schooling in their host country. He said the pain of these refugees is often compounded by the fact that they have left loved ones behind in Syria and have to wonder each day when they wake up whether their husband, wife or son is alive and surviving the conflict back home.
During his trip, Cardinal Tagle also met migrant workers, including some from his native Philippines, who were the victims of abuse or exploitation by their employers. He also said some of the migrant workers had even been beaten by their employers and still bore the physical scars of that mistreatment. The migrant workers are being helped by Caritas Lebanon with legal aid, shelter, medical support and counselling.
Asked what message he had for the international community after what he saw and heard in Lebanon, Cardinal Tagle said his message was to urge political leaders and those in power to settle the root cause of this war and conflict (in Syria and Iraq) and “to set aside greed and self-interest for the sake of the suffering people.”