By John Newton and Maria Lozano

Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has announced another massive program of aid to help Beirut rise up from the ashes following the explosion in August.

The latest grants by the charity for persecuted and other suffering Christians mean that in total ACN has committed €5 million (£4.53m) in the wake of the 4th August 2020 blast, which killed more than 200 people, with at least 6,000 injured and more than 300,000 made homeless.

The aid, announced yesterday (15th October), mostly provides repairs for church buildings in the immediate vicinity of the blast which caused particularly serious damage to a historic Christian quarter of the Lebanese capital.

The charity is helping to reconstruct the iconic Maronite Cathedral of St George, which was badly damaged by the blast, and repair St Saviour’s Melkite Greek Catholic Church.

Other buildings ACN will be helping to repair are Sisters’ convents including one at the hospital of the Sisters of the Holy Rosary and the Mother House of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Dr. Thomas Heine-Geldern, ACN (international) Executive President, said the charity’s priority “is to provide the necessary funds to complete the essential emergency repair work before the arrival of winter in order to forestall still greater damage, caused by the winter rains for example, and at the same time to make these buildings usable”.

He stressed the importance of providing help, given Lebanon’s economic and healthcare crisis which pre-dates the explosion and which has caused the Lebanese pound to lose 80 percent of its value against the US dollar.

Dr. Heine-Geldern said: “The Christians of Lebanon feel very much alone at the present time and are considering emigration as a solution to their problems.

“Pope John Paul II said that Lebanon has a special mission in the Middle East. ACN will always remember it. We will therefore continue to support the Christians in this country and [the charity is] not going to leave them to face this task alone.”

This latest grant from ACN comes on top of aid approved within days of the blast, providing emergency support for 5,880 homeless families.

Last month, ACN carried out a fact-finding and project-assessment trip to Beirut led by Reinhard Backes, the charity’s project coordinator for the region. 

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