Mireille Girard UNHCR representative in Lebanon visits MECC
The General Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), Dr. Souraya Bechealany met with Mireille Girard, UNHCR representative in Lebanon, in the head office, in Beirut. Possibilities of collaboration were discussed for the sake of human dignity, as efforts should be joined to assist the refugees and displaced, a concern that has become of prime importance around the world today.
In her welcome address MECC General Secretary Dr. Bechealany emphasized the common interest of the two organizations, that prompts them to cooperate on several levels, namely the dignity of the human being. She said: “The Middle East Council of Churches is committed to standing by the most marginalized social groups, by the displaced and refugees. Together with our local, regional and international partners, we have refugee relief programs in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Palestine, whereby we undertake to assist and protect these people, who are all children of God, brothers and sisters of our kind, created in the God’s image and likeness”.
She added: “Our core ecumenical work is to care for the human being, with absolutely no discrimination; in this we directly share common objectives with the United Nations and with the UNHCR.
I am very much aware of UNHCR’s efforts around the world to assist about 62.5 million refugees and displaced. Hence, I call not only for supporting their humanitarian aid, but also for striving to end these conflicts, and endeavor for the refugees’ dignified and secure return to their homeland in order to protect their identity.
While stressing the importance of relief programs for the refugees, displaced, and migrants, of development programs within the host countries, I insist upon the need for effective measures to help these populations return home, under decent humanitarian and security conditions, in accordance with international norms, provided with legal, security, economic, and social guarantees”.
And to conclude: ” Our main concern is the welfare of the human being. Therefore, our ecumenical commitment is based on protecting human dignity and human rights.”
The UNHCR representative in Lebanon Mireille Girard thanked Dr. Bechealany and the Middle East Council of Churches for the meeting, referring to the fruitful discussion which she had with Dr Bechealany, as more ways of collaboration between the two organizations were explored, to provide support for the vulnerable refugee and Lebanese community alike. “As 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”, she said.
Mrs. Girard mentioned the long time partnership between UNHCR and the Middle East Council of Churches, which have been combining their efforts for decades to provide humanitarian aid in Lebanon, saying that the UNHCR “looked forward to continue this successful collaboration”.
She also noted that 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. “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”.
Girard concluded with a quote by Pope Francis originally spoken by Pope John Paul II: “No aid institution alone can take the place of a human heart, nor that of human compassion”. She commented: “His message is loud and clear!”