When Pope Francis met the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Najib Mikati, last week in Rome he recalled the Gospel passage in which Jesus went to Jairus’ house. He added the prayer: “Lord God, take Lebanon by the hand and say to her, Get up!”
Lebanon is certainly a country in need of prayers: its economy is crippled by power cuts, rocketing prices and a plunging currency, quite apart from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and last year’s terrible blasts which killed 218 people in Beirut.
Children are among the worst victims of Lebanon’s deep economic plunge. The crisis was already severe among the country’s large refugee population, but is now engulfing the local community, according to Unicef, which recently reported that the education of some 700,000 children, including 260,000 Lebanese, is under threat. Over half of families reported that at least one child had been forced to miss a meal in October, while the proportion of Lebanese families sending children to work increased seven-fold.
At the end of their meeting last Thursday, Pope Francis asked the prime minister and his delegation to join him in a moment of silent prayer. Cafod joins them all in praying for Lebanon’s children, whose future is threatened with every day that passes while the country remains gripped by crisis.
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Laura Ouseley is World News Officer at Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD).
With thanks to The Tablet and Laura Ouseley, where this article originally appeared.