More than 2,000 new Christian refugees have fled from Syria to the Lebanon in the past two days, the UN reports. They are being welcomed and supported by the local Christian community.
Fr Paul Karam, Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Lebanon said: "We know a number of Christian families who have fled to Syria from the violence or the oppression of the regime. There are families who have relatives in Lebanon who have fled here and want to change their lives, looking for work. The Church's response in Lebanon is to offer them hospitality and care. We host them in parishes, provide food and clothing, we assist them at an economic level and hep them to settle. The Syrian Christian families are divided into several parishes and dioceses.
"We know there are many non-Christian refugees from Syria in the north and the Lebanese government has asked the population to help them".
With regards to the Syrian crisis, Fr Karam said: "As a Church we reiterate that we are against violence. We want to promote peace and encourage dialogue. As for the Christians, the danger that looms is a scenario like Iraq, where Christians are forced to flee the country. The risk is that a dictatorial regime could be replaced with an Islamist type which imposes sharia law".
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