Maronite Church to launch food and social assistance plan

Author: Fady Noun

Publication Date: 7/5/2020


Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi yesterday announced that the Maronite Church, alarmed by rising poverty in the Lebanese population, will undertake an ambitious country-wide plan to provide food and social assistance to families without income as a result of the current economic crisis.

The plan will be based on a survey conducted by parishes, bishoprics and monasteries as well as Caritas-Liban, the Church’s official charity, coordinated by the Maronite Center for Documentation and Research under Patriarchal Vicar Samir Mazloum.


A meeting was held yesterday to vet the assistance plan. Various social or socio-political associations and organisations will be part of the effort: the Maronite League, the Maronite Foundation in the World, the Maronite Foundation for Integral Development, the Pontifical Mission, the Lebanese Red Cross, the Saint Vincent de Paul Association, the Maronite Central Council, the Maronites Rally for Lebanon, the Kallassi group, Labora, Offer-Joie and the National Council for the Cedar Revolution , as well as the Patriarchal Rescue Committee.

They will be joined by donors acting without intermediaries or making donations to charities, parish fraternities, apostolic communities, and various associations, municipalities and collective initiatives.

The Patriarch noted that Lebanon’s Maronite Church is helping about 33,456 people at a cost of 71. 585 billion Lebanese pounds (about US.2 million at the official exchange rate). In addition, its educational, hospital and social institutions are providing employment opportunities to 18,870 families, with an overall annual payroll of 430.73 billion Lebanese pounds (US$ 283.8 million) with an average monthly salary of US,253.

For the Maronite Patriarch, “The Church’s diakonia of love today finds itself faced with the heavy duty of helping the poor and the needy, whose number is rising as a result of the economic and financial crises, a stifled life, the unpredictable rise in prices and the depreciation of the Lebanese pound.”

Finally, Patriarch al-Rahi noted that the meeting in Bkerké coincided with the meeting at the presidential palace centred on the government economic rescue plan. “We hope both state and church will succeed for the greater good of all and the well-being of everyone, each in their respective domain of activity and by their own means," said the prelate.

The Solidarity association

It is worth noting that on Monday a campaign began to provide food rations to 5,000 families deprived of resources because of the economic crisis and social confinement.

Placed under the patronage of the Maronite Patriarchate, the campaign has been organised by Solidarity, an NGO backed by the Maronite Foundation in the World, linked to Bkerké, and the Gilbert and Rose-Marie Chaghouri Foundation, in partnership with the Lebanese Maronite Order, which has set up distribution points for the operation.

The campaign will help 5,000 families meet their food needs for six months. Its success will serve as a test and allow more families to benefit, for longer periods, conscious however that there is no way of knowing when economic and daily difficulties will end.

It is equally worth remembering that the Finance Minister announced yesterday that almost half of the Lebanese population is now living below the poverty line, and that the unemployment rate has reached 35 per cent of the active population, with massive job losses in the past few months, with the economic slump getting worse because of the containment policy put in place to fight the COVID-19 epidemic.

Various organisations have already set up food relief operations, particularly in predominantly Muslim urban areas, where the Ramadan fast is being observed.


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