Syrian Christian refugees have little to celebrate

Al-Monitor reports: A funeral mass many not sound like a festive occasion, but it is one of the initiatives by charities and churches to alleviate the suffering of Syria’s Christian refugees in Lebanon this Christmas. “Many people had to flee before being able to bury their dead,” says Issam John Darwish, archbishop of the Melkite Catholic diocese of Zahle. The funeral will commemorate more than 300 people.

The diocese is also distributing heating fuel and food packages to the 400 families that have registered with Zahle’s more than 130 local churches. Christian charities such as Caritas are distributing clothes to Syrian refugees to mark the holidays, and World Vision has organized Christmas plays through which refugees are encouraged to find the holiday spirit.

But many refugees say they have little to celebrate. “I don’t feel like there are any holidays,” says 24-year-old Talej Hallak. She fled the bombs falling on Qusayr, just across the Syrian border in March. It’s the first time she is experiencing Christmas outside her country and without her relatives. Her father died “during the war,” as she refers to the 22-month-old conflict, images of which flicker on the TV screen behind her. And there will be no gifts for 5-year-old Ibrahim or 2½-year old Pamela either; the family is scraping by on what her husband, Khoder, makes as a painter. [Continue reading…]

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