Iraqi citizen Jalila Danha stops by the Chaldean Diocese in Hazmieh in
the Beirut suburbs twice a month to pick up food rations for her
Danha, a Chaldean Christian, arrived in Lebanon from Baghdad about three
months ago, and has since been sharing one room in the Dekwaneh area
with her husband’s family at a monthly rent of $650.
"We need help," she said. "The diocese gives us enough to minimally cope
with our ordeal. We have to find work, any kind of work, because our
return to Baghdad is unlikely, seeing as our neighbors threatened to
kill us if we did not leave."
Before they left Baghdad, Danha and her family discovered their neighbours belonged to a terrorist group, she told Al-Shorfa.
Mosul native Abu Mohamed Salman, who is in his 70s, also comes to the
diocese to get food rations for his family, who for the last four months
has been sharing one room in al-Mazraa area in Beirut.
"The diocese helps me," Salman said. "They do not discriminate in the bestowment [of assistance]."
"We have long lived as one family in Iraq and did not know
discrimination until the arrival of the mercenaries of the terrorist
groups, whose threats reached us, so I loaded up my family and came to
Beirut," he told Al-Shorfa.
Iraqis have been leaving their country following the expansion of the
"Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) into their areas.
Approximately 30,000 Iraqis, of all Christian and Muslim denominations,
have arrived in Lebanon since July, according to Chaldean Archbishop in
Lebanon Michel Kassarji.
Of this number, 7,000 are registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), he said.
"For the past seven months, we have witnessed the arrival of large
numbers every week through the Beirut airport on tourist visas that are
valid for a maximum of two months," the archbishop said.
"During that time, they register with UNHCR in the hope that they would
be deported to and resettled in a foreign country. Those who do not
renew their visas for fear they would not be deported from Lebanon come
knocking on our door and the doors of others, and they number in the
thousands," he told Al-Shorfa.
About 2,200 displaced Chaldean families are registered with the church,
around 10,000 people, while 600 other families are awaiting
registration, he said.
"There are more than 4,000 Iraqi families of various Christian and
Muslim sects who are in need of all kinds of assistance, and most of
them knock on our door and the doors of churches and religious – both
Christian and Muslim – and humanitarian organisations to obtain some of
that assistance," he said.
The Chaldean Diocese in Hazmieh recently received 4,800 full food
rations, 1,500 of which were distributed to displaced Muslims and
Yazidis, he said.
Due to the rise in the number of refugees, "we have reached a stage
where we cannot meet all needs, so we are forced from time to time to
cry out for help with this humanitarian [crisis]", he said.
The Ministry of Health contributes to the cost of treating those with
chronic medical conditions such as cancer and kidney dialysis, he said,
while the UNHCR covers 40% of some other medical cases and the diocese
covers the balance.
Providing food, medical services, protection
The Makhzoumi Foundation is working with the UNHCR and Caritas to help
displaced Iraqis through three programmes related to providing
protection, food aid and health services, said relief and humanitarian
services unit co-ordinator at the foundation Mohamed Mansour.
"We provide displaced Iraqis with food rations, and cash in some cases,
and also work through our programmes to protect displaced children from
[child] labor, early marriage and sexual exploitation, in addition to
the protection of battered women," he told Al-Shorfa.
The foundation also provides UNHCR-supported accelerated vocational
training programmes that help refugees build their skills, Mansour said.
The foundation has a number of clinics, laboratories and specialised
clinics that have been put at the service of refugees from Iraq and
elsewhere, he added, and co-operates with Rafik Hariri University
Hospital in Beirut in cases where hospitalisation is needed.
UNHCR spokeswoman Dana Suleiman said the commission provides Iraqi
refugees with the same services Syrian refugees in Lebanon receive.
"The commission provides the 7,000 displaced Iraqis registered with it
with health care, food and medical aid, as well as financial assistance
to the most needy among them," she told Al-Shorfa.
Iraqis who fled their country due to the recent events can take part in
programmes at the social centres hosting refugees which include support
groups and educational activities for children and women, she added.