Dear friends of the Mission,
My heart is breaking.
I'm traveling with Fr. Andre Mahanna this week to advocate in Washington, D.C. for nearly 1,000 children recently rescued in Mosul from ISIS sex slavery. "Abouna", as he is known by his parishioners, is crying out for these children, most of them orphans, to be brought here to the USA for treatment and counseling.
Meanwhile he tells me the U.N. is turning babies and small children away from hospitals in Lebanon.
These are children and babies of our Christian brothers and sisters who are the victims of the ISIS genocide. Their families skirted official U.N. camps to get to Lebanon because, like almost everywhere else in the lands where their Christian faith was born, the camps where "refugees" are processed are not safe for Christians and other minorities.
Because of this hard reality, most fleeing Christians come into Lebanon illegally and exist in a terrible limbo, without access to U.N. assistance or benefits of any kind. Some of these Christian and ethnic minority children--some as young as 3--are daily arrested, thrown in jail, beaten, sold for sex or carved up for their organs.
Without legal documents, the U.N. won't let these suffering children in the door at their hospitals unless Fr. Andre can secure at least $500 per child. Those who, by God's grace, have acquired the necessary paperwork are put at the bottom of the priority list, and either sent to the worst hospitals or refused access to treatment, despite having secured payment. The attitudes behind genocide, nourished by ISIS, have followed these souls into Lebanon and other lands that should be offering them refuge. There is systematic persecution of Christians being perpetuated by the policies and indifference of the West.
And so Father Andre spends his days begging, begging, begging, but hardly anyone is helping. Wealthy people and elected officials let him meet with them. Yet help is only trickling in and meanwhile babies are dying.
This "priest prophet" tells me he has lost 5 infants this week who were refused hospital treatment for lack of funds. He has a detailed list of other urgent cases that are being turned away from care--stories like a little boy in horrific pain from a blocked urinary tract and another child with an excruciating infection on his arm. Desperate parents reach out to Fr. Andre and his Mission day and night pleading for help. All these children are refused treatment by U.N. hospital workers in Lebanon simply because they didn't come through the proper channels, don't have the right documents or any money, and so they somehow aren't "worthy" to be treated.
It gets worse. Lebanon has 4 million native-born citizens and hosts more than 2 million, mostly Sunni Muslim, refugees from Syria. It hosts more refugees per capita than any other country in the world.
Last week, Lebanon reported that of the Syrian refugees now sheltering in Lebanon, 43 percent have come from undisturbed areas free from war or violence. They have come to Lebanon claiming to be "refugees" in order to receive handouts from the U.N., knowing that their homes and properties back in Syria are secure and waiting for them to return when the U.N. money train eventually dries up.
All the while, the true genocide victims, Christian and ethnic minorities, parents and grandparents, babies and children, are turned away by the U.N. and left to die excruciating deaths while the world turns its back.
Have we not seen genocide before: in Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, in Axis Japan, Communist China and Pol Pot’s Cambodia, in Armenia, Bangladesh, Darfur and Rwanda…? The list is all but endless; for Christians in the Middle East, there is no end in sight. If there is a common thread, it is this: in all cases, decent and well-intentioned people failed to do enough to help until it was too late to save tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions.
Will you help?
To place a single child into the emergency room in Lebanon is $500. Can you do that? Please, visit Fr. Andre's mission at SaveChristianMiddleEast.org and make a contribution that will save the life of a baby or small child.
Minimally, raise your voice. Say a prayer. By doing this, you may help to save Christianity itself in the lands where Jesus walked.
For the children of God,
Mrs. Denise "Dede" Laugesen
Director of Community Awareness
St Rafka Mission of Hope and Mercy