CNEWA Report on Emergency Aid to Lebanon
CNEWA has delivered more than $4.5 million in assistance to Lebanon since an explosion in the port of Beirut on 4 August 2020 killed more than 200 people, injured thousands and left some 300,000 homeless.
As directed by the Holy See, CNEWA has coordinated worldwide Catholic aid, raising nearly $5 million to date and allocating that aid to four principal areas: $3,170,787 for health care, $510,000 in foodstuffs, $770,341 to restore religious houses and $121,376 to restore small businesses and homes.
CNEWA continues to raise funds to support Lebanon’s Catholic hospitals and schools, as well as food distribution programs of the local churches, including the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Melkite Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Zahleh.
Funds were secured from individuals, religious communities and foundations throughout Canada, the United States and Lebanon. European funding partners — including Aid to the Church in Need, the Archdiocese of Cologne, Embrace the Middle East, Misereor and others — have been particularly generous.
CNEWA’s Beirut-based team launched an emergency response campaign, joining its partners in assessing damages and recommending short- and long-term courses of action. For a full report on CNEWA activities in post-blast Lebanon thus far, visit cnewa.org/beirut-2021. To support CNEWA’s work in Lebanon, visit cnewa.org/lebanon.
CNEWA and the CFC
CNEWA is again participating in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) through 15 January. One of the most successful workplace giving programs worldwide, CFC donors are federal employees who provide help to those in need through payroll deductions; federal retirees can donate through their payroll annuity. CNEWA invites U.S. federal employees, those in military service and retirees to support the CNEWA mission. The CFC registration code for CNEWA is #68580. For more information, visit cnewa.org/cfc or givecfc.org.
Redemptoris Mater Turns 30
The hospital founded by Pope John Paul II and given to the people of Armenia, Redemptoris Mater, turned 30 in October. Its construction, funded by CNEWA and Caritas Italy, was in response to a devastating earthquake in 1988. The hospital opened in 1991 and is run by the Camillian Fathers.
Patriarch Raphael Francois Minassian, elected in September as the Catholic patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, celebrated a liturgy on 17 October, marking the anniversary.
Located in the village of Ashotzk, about 6,600 feet above sea level near the border with Georgia, the hospital is under several feet of snow for almost half of the year. Patients living in remote villages in both countries travel up to 100 miles for the hospital’s renowned quality of care. The 100-bed facility offers services in general medicine, surgery, maternity and pediatrics, and serves an additional 22 villages with clinics connected to the hospital.
Successive pontiffs have remained attentive to the hospital’s needs. In April, Pope Francis donated medical equipment and an ambulance to help care for COVID-19 patients. CNEWA’s continued support helps to cover operations and medical equipment.
Lebanon’s Hospitals in Crisis
The greatest concern for health care in Lebanon now — more than the damages incurred by the Beirut port blast — is staff retention, according to Sister Hadia Abi Chebli and Dr. Pierre Yared, codirectors of Lebanese Hospital Geitaoui.
Dr. Yared said nearly 90 medical workers among the 600-member staff have left in the past year for more stable work abroad amid Lebanon’s ongoing socioeconomic crisis. Currently, the hospital is seeking funding to cover at least 25 percent of nurse salaries in U.S. dollars as a retention strategy.
While no patient in need of critical or emergency care is refused, said Dr. Yared, the hospital has begun refusing elective surgeries and has reduced its capacity to 150 beds. Without assistance, Geitaoui Hospital is facing possible closure for the first time in its 96-year history, said Sister Hadia. CNEWA has launched a campaign to support Geitaoui Hospital. Visit geitaoui.cnewa.net.
Civil War in Ethiopia
Multiple press outlets report a grim situation in Ethiopia as a protracted conflict involving various ethnic groups and Ethiopia’s federal government has entered its second year. Thousands are thought to have perished in the fighting. The number of casualties is unknown.
The fighting once contained in northern Ethiopia is spreading south. With many forms of communication severed, reports are difficult to confirm, but armed groups are now positioned a few hundred miles from Addis Ababa, the capital. The government has declared a national state of emergency, preparing residents in the capital to defend their homes. According to Catholic News Service, the government also arrested 17 people, including Salesian priests and religious, most of them ethnically Tigrayan.
Nearly 500,000 people face starvation in the north, where about two million people have been displaced, while millions more confront severe food shortages. Combatants have prevented emergency aid convoys from accessing the needy. Some aid vehicles have been attacked.
CNEWA is monitoring the situation daily, as we are concerned for the safety and well-being of our team in Addis Ababa, with whom we are in regular contact, our extensive network of friends and collaborators throughout Ethiopia, and all people of good will in the Horn of Africa.
Now in Spanish!
CNEWA launched a Spanish-language website in November, cnewa.org/es/, introducing the world of the Eastern churches to the growing Spanish-speaking population in the United States. The launch coincided with a prayer campaign through the month of All Souls. CNEWA’s friends and benefactors were invited to share the names of loved ones who have died to be remembered in the daily Masses celebrated by CNEWA President Msgr. Peter I. Vaccari in the CNEWA chapel.