CAFOD appeals for funds as Syrian refugees struggle to cope as winter sets in
CAFOD is asking for vital donations to support its winter humanitarian aid work in response to the worsening Syrian refugee crisis.
CAFOD partners are currently supporting refugee families living in informal tent settlements in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon, only nine kilometres from the Syrian border.
To raise the plight of the refugees, award-winning photographer Dario Mitidieri has taken a moving series of portraits, Lost Family Portraits.
Studio-style portraits were made of families whose lives were shattered as they fled the conflict, with empty chairs symbolising the loved ones they had to leave behind. Each photograph reveals the desperate choices families were forced to make to reach safety.
Photographing twelve Syrian refugee families in the Bekaa valley informal settlements, Mitidieri listened to some of their heart-breaking stories, and says his photographs should act as a reminder never to forget the suffering of these families, and many more affected by the war.
“The families I met have been witness to so many stories – horror stories, terrible stories – people dying, children dying, things that shouldn’t be happening in 2016,” said Dario.
“I met a father who lost his wife in a bomb attack, he is left to take care of his three traumatised daughters. I saw the pain in a mother’s eyes, as she talked about leaving behind her child.
“These stories are a reminder that we can’t forget, we can’t just switch off the TV and forget about it. These are real people with real stories, and that is why it’s very important to keep raising the issue – look at these photographs of families, read their stories.
“Today it’s them, tomorrow, God forbid, it could be us.”
“It is horrific to hear what these women, children and men have already gone through. Now they are facing winter in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, which is 5,000ft above sea level, where temperatures can fall to minus five,” said Matthew Carter, CAFOD’s humanitarian director. “The hardship for families like these, who struggle daily to cope with inadequate conditions and uncertain prospects for the future, is heart-breaking.
“Money from our winter appeal will allow us to meet the humanitarian demands not only in Lebanon, but inside Syria and other neighbouring countries, as well as in Europe. When a family receives a blanket, food parcel, hygiene kit or medical attention, dignity and a sense of hope are restored.
“Dario’s photographs are a reminder that we need to share the stories of refugees. We see the faces of people who have fled for their lives. They are not merely statistics.”
The Syria conflict is entering its sixth year and CAFOD partner, Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre, which have been established in Lebanon since the early 1980s, has been working in the Bekka Valley supporting the emergency needs of refugee families.
As temperatures begin to plummet, people living in tents, makeshift shelters and damaged or derelict buildings are in urgent need of blankets, warm clothes and fuel for heating.
Bruno Atieh, Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre director, explained that with no end in sight to the war, the charity was doing all it could to keep families warm during this winter period, but that nore help is desperately needed. “The money raised from CAFOD will allow us to scale up our winter emergency response work, and reach more families in desperate need.”Tags: appeal, CAFOD, Dario Mitidieri, Lost Family Portraits, refugee, refugees, Syria, Syrian