Lebanon's "hell on earth": Order of Malta

The Australian branch of the historic Order of Malta has launched a $1 million dollar humanitarian appeal for Lebanon following an urgent request from its Lebanese counterpart which has described the post-war situation as "hell on earth."

The Order of Malta, a humanitarian organisation which traces its roots back nearly a thousand years to the original Knights of St John, says that while the fighting in Lebanon may have ended, the real battle to save the victims has only just begun.

Describing the conflict between Israeli forces and Hezbollah militants as "a tragedy beyond understanding", the Order said that "the situation in Lebanon is desperate, despite the ceasefire."

"The Order has provided emergency relief to victims of disaster for hundreds of years but this is the first time that we have asked the Australian public for help," said David Scarf, of the Order's Australian branch.

According to the Order's media release, the local appeal has been launched to help provide vital medical and humanitarian relief throughout the month of fighting.

Funds raised will go directly to the Order in Lebanon for the purchase and distribution of hygiene products, medicines, food, clothing, bedding and milk for about 7000 displaced children under the age of eight including 700 babies born during the conflict, the Order says.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Georges Cottier, Pope Benedict's personal theologian, says that the international community led by the UN is right to go into Lebanon with the aim of building peace, even though it is difficult and dangerous but necessary.

"It is right to go to Lebanon," Dominican Cardinal Cottier told the Rome daily La Repubblica according to an AKI report.

"It is right that the international community led by the United Nations departs with the aim of building peace in a region that has suffered so much, and is the cradle of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam" the Cardinal said.

"We cannot hide from the fact that Hezbollah is a major danger," he added. "For Israel the situation is different because among the Israelis there is a democratic process able to express consent or dissent."

On the mission of the blue helmets, the theologian underlined that "it's good that the UN has finally decided to intervene to help two people who till now have not been able to find the way of peace by themselves."

Order of Malta (Media Release, 24/8/06)
Vatican paper urges caution in Lebanese peacekeeping mission (Catholic World News, 28/8/06)
Vatican: Lebanon mission "dangerous but necessary", says theologian (AKI, 28/8/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Knights of Malta Lebanon Appeal

Stay in Lebanon: Maronite Archbishop begs his flock (CathNews, 22/8/06)
Bishops and church groups welcome Middle East ceasefire (CathNews, 14/8/06)
Neither retaliation or provocation can justify slaughter: Australian Maronite nun (CathNews, 11/8/06)
Aid agencies call on PM to push for Middle East ceasefire (CathNews, 7/8/06)
Unity and hope amid chaos in Lebanon (CathNews, 2/8/06)
Canberra Christian leaders slam Govt over "cowardly" silence on Middle East (CathNews, 1/8/06)
Benedict calls for miracle as Qana toll reaches 54 (CathNews 31/7/06)
Asian and African migrants "abandoned" in Lebanon, Vatican says (CathNews 27/7/06)
Students taking lead for Middle East peace (CathNews 26/7/06)
Lebanese Maronite bishops plea for UN help (CathNews 25/7/06)
Caritas Lebanon slams milk factory attack (CathNews 21/7/06)
Advertise Lebanon evacuation plans, stranded priest tells Govt (CathNews 20/7/06)

29 Aug 2006