Pope Francis has called on Lebanon’s leaders to put away prejudiced interests and work to reinstate peace and stability in the crisis-hit country. The Pope made the statement at the end of a day-long summit with Lebanese Christian leaders in the Vatican, which took place on Thursday.
Previously, Francis greeted the Christian leaders for a day of prayer amid mounting fears over the threat posed by Lebanon’s economic and financial breakdown, linked with an 11-month political deadlock over the formation of a new government. “I want to reiterate how essential it is for those in power to finally choose and decisively to work for true peace and not for their own interests,” Pope Francis stated.
During a closing prayer, he further said, “Let there be an end to the few profiting from the sufferings of many. No more letting half-truths continue to frustrate people’s aspirations.”
Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri said that he hoped the Vatican meeting will be successful in inviting all Lebanese to protect their coexistence, and “for Lebanon to be blessed with the Pope’s visit as promised.” In this regard, the Pope repeated his wish on Thursday to visit Lebanon.
A survey by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) found that “more than 30 percent of children in Lebanon went to bed hungry in the past month” amid worsening poverty in the country.
The fund claimed that “Successive crises have put families and children in Lebanon in deplorable conditions.”
“The number of families struggling to survive is increasing,” said Yuki Muko, UNICEF’s Lebanon representative. Muko further said that families were forced to cut back on food consumption, send their children to work, marry off their underage daughters or sell their belongings.
Muko warned that “Lebanon cannot bear seeing children deprived of nutrition, forced to leave their schools, suffering from poor and fragile health, or facing aggression, violence and abuse.”
Lebanese Christians, as well as Muslims, are facing the worst economic collapse in the modern history of the country. The sharp devaluation of the local currency, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Beirut port explosion, has led to a large socio-economic crisis in Lebanon.