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Girard visits Middle East Council of Churches: Our common goal is to preserve human dignity

The Secretary General of the Middle East Council of Churches, Souraya Bechealany, on Tuesday welcomed at the Council's main headquarters in Beirut the UNHCR Representative in Lebanon, Mireille Girard.

Discussions reportedly touched on means of cooperation and uniting efforts in the service of refugees and the displaced people.

Bechealany said: "Our common interest in safeguarding human dignity pushes us both [the Council and UNHCR] to cooperate on several levels," saying the Middle East Council is committed to standing by the most vulnerable groups, refugees and displaced people.

Bechealany also disclosed that The Council has programs in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Palestine with local and international partners in this regard.

"The core of our ecumenical work is caring for people, without any discrimination, and this makes our work in harmony with the goals of the United Nations and the UNHCR," Bechealany maintained.

Bechealany also stressed the Council's utter keenness to protect humans' dignity and their rights.

UNHCR Representative in Lebanon, Mireille Girard, for her part, said she had a fruitful discussion with Dr. Bechealany, exploring ways UNHCR and the Council can further collaborate to provide support for vulnerable refugees and Lebanese communities.

"For decades, UNHCR and the Middle East Council of Churches have been partners in responding to humanitarian needs in Lebanon, and we look forward to continue this successful collaboration," Girard said.

Girard added: "UNHCR is a secular organization, however, our partnership with religious organizations is not new, as we realized early on, since the creation of UNHCR, that such partnership is key for an effective response. In many of our operations around the world, we have partnered with faith-based organizations to provide relief assistance and warmth to displaced communities.

Faith-based organizations can play a key role throughout the cycle of displacement of refugees, from the prevention of crises, to support in exile and safe return and reintegration in their country or relocation to another country."

She added: "While we work towards solutions for refugees outside Lebanon, UNHCR highly values this continued solidarity and commitment to help vulnerable communities in Lebanon live in dignity.

There lies a close link between humanitarian work and the values and principles that are at the basis of all major faiths, and that is translated in our common objective of preserving human dignity.

In common with faith-based organizations, my agency, UNHCR, seeks to provide protection and care for people who are forced to flee, while also providing support to the communities hosting them. We look forward to closer cooperation with the Middle East Council of Churches in this regard."

The UNHCR Representative concluded: "I would like to end with a quote by Pope Francis during a speech he gave yesterday, in which he is actually quoting Pope John Paul II: "No aid institution alone can take the place of a human heart, nor that of human compassion". His message is loud and clear!"

Source: National News Agency