Local Maronites will rally to help Beirut, says Bishop

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Firefighters extinguish flames at the site of an explosion in Beirut on 4 August. Two massive explosions ripped through the Lebanese capital, injuring many people and blowing out windows in buildings across the city’s port region. PHOTO: CNS/Mohamed Azakir, Reuters

*This story has been updated to include details of the Beirut Disaster Relief Appeal.

Australians pray and prepare to send aid

The Maronite Eparch of Australia, Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay OLM, has launched an appeal to help the shell-shocked people of Beirut after an explosion ripped through the capital of Lebanon yesterday.

Bishop Tarabay will rally the local Maronite community to offer prayers and material aid to the suffering.

“The call now is for prayers and to be united in showing our solidarity and compassion to those in need,” Bishop Tarabay told The Catholic Weekly.

“We continue to pray for Lebanon and for an end to the suffering of its people, through the intercession of Our Lady of Lebanon and all the saints.”

Maronite Bishop Antoine Charbel-Tarabay

The Bishop’s call for aid comes after the deadly warehouse explosion on 4 August in the country’s capital claimed the lives of almost 80 people including an Australian, injured thousands and destroyed a significant portion of the city.

The appeal was set up via the Maronite charitable organisation, Maronites on Mission Australia. All funds raised will go to urgent medical supplies, food packages and home repairs.

Donations will be distributed in collaboration with charitable organisations in Beirut and can be made via www.maronitesonmission.com

The tragedy has drawn further attention to the worst crisis Lebanon is facing since the Civil War in 1990.

“Like many Australian Lebanese waking up this morning, I was devastated to read about the explosion that rocked Beirut on Tuesday afternoon,” the bishop said. “This is a testing time for Lebanon and the Lebanese diaspora; a time to call for prayers and hope.”

“This is a testing time for Lebanon and the Lebanese diaspora; a time to call for prayers and hope,” Bishop Tarabay

Bishop Tarabay announced a Novena beginning tomorrow 6 August which will be dedicated to Lebanon as well as a memorial Mass on Saturday for the victims of the explosion.

There will also be a live-streamed Mass at 6pm on Saturday 8 August for the victims of the explosion, he said.

A disaster amid an already fragile situation

Ongoing civil unrest in Lebanon, beginning in October 2019 in the ‘Tharwa Revolution’, arose in response to endemic political corruption and neglect.

A man wearing a protective mask lies on the ground next to his suitcase on a sidewalk in Beirut July 28, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lebanon’s dire economic crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, is pushing people into a struggle for survival, Catholic and other humanitarian agencies warn. PHOTO: CNS/Mohamed Azakir, Reuters

As a consequence thousands of people in Lebanon are living without basic amenities while economic mismanagement from the Government has resulted in it accumulating one highest national debts in the world – a recession which began before the global COVID-19 recession.

Malnutrition and famine are on the rise, unemployment is currently at 25 per cent, food prices are inflated and nearly a third of people now live below the poverty line. In addition, an influx of approximately 1.7 million refugees from war-torn neighbouring Syria are surviving in the country.

“Please contact your families and relatives in Lebanon and check on them at this time,” Bishop Tarabay

Bishop Tarabay urged his community in Australia to keep in contact with their families back home to ensure their safety and wellbeing. “Please contact your families and relatives in Lebanon and check on them at this time and offer any assistance you can. You may be their only source of help at the moment,” he said.

“In terms of support an appeal is soon to be launched in solidarity with people to help those in need in Lebanon. “

The bishop said he believes in the resilience of the Lebanese people to overcome their ongoing severe challenges.

“I have faith that Lebanon and the people of Beirut will overcome this catastrophe,” he said.

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