Advocating For Refugees In Beirut, Lebanon
by Kristin Wright, Director of Advocacy at Open Doors USA I recently had the opportunity to work together with several Open Doors colleagues from offices around the world to arrange a series of advocacy meetings in Beirut, Lebanon. Our goal was to observe firsthand the situation in Lebanon, meeting with and interviewing Syrian refugees, and gaining relevant information that we can use to help increase awareness, understanding, and assistance at the governmental level. The first several days of our trip were spent in refugee camps, documenting the realities that refugees live with every day – the shortage of food, clothing, and housing, as well as the emotional trauma endured by children and adults who have fled bombings and other horrific acts of violence in Syria. We met with church leaders who are tirelessly assisting the refugees in their communities, providing crucial humanitarian aid, trauma counseling, and educational opportunities for children. We visited the homes of refugees in Lebanon – ranging from apartments that families could barely afford, to tents in the Bekaa Valley, to even a chicken coop that served as the residence for several refugee families who couldn’t afford adequate housing. Having documented the experiences of the refugees we spoke with, and learned firsthand of the unique challenges they face, my colleagues and I embarked on a series of meetings in Lebanon’s capital of Beirut. We met with the UK Delegation to Syria, the EU Delegation to Syria, and the US embassy. In each meeting, we were able to share firsthand experiences with refugees in the region, and relay the needs and challenges faced by those fleeing the violence in Syria. We were able to speak authoritatively on the plight of religious minorities, particularly Christians, and share some of the ways in which Open Doors is strengthening the church in this region. I was encouraged to find that our information was received well at each delegation meeting. Without exception, officers we met with said that the firsthand accounts were both helpful and relevant. Our group was asked to compile a report of our findings (currently in progress) in order to help increase awareness and understanding of the situation on the governmental level. My colleagues and I were grateful for the opportunity to advocate on behalf of those who are suffering as a result of the Syrian conflict and the increased presence of ISIS and other radical groups in the region. We are grateful for your continued support of advocacy and your participation in Open Doors’ work for the persecuted church. Thank you for being a voice for those who are suffering!