Losing Its Young People in Lebanon

Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops Sound a Warning
( [email protected] ) Nov 26, 2003 11:35 AM EST

BKIRKI, Lebanon - Economic and legal difficulties and social marginalization are forcing young people to leave the country, the recent assembly of Lebanese Catholic patriarchs and bishops warned.

The assembly's final document said emigration by young people has reached alarming levels in recent years.

Lebanese people have always been travelers and emigrants but now young people are leaving the country with no intention of returning.

Bishops mentioned that the phenomenon could "empty the country of its youth"

The assembly, which was held in Bkirki, headquarters of the Maronite patriarchate, brought together Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir; Armenian Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX; Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III Laham (represented by his vicar, Monsignor Salim Ghazal), and several bishops of the different dioceses. The topic of the annual assembly, which ended Nov. 16, was emigration and the diaspora.

In the economic plane, the assembly stated that 70% of Lebanese who emigrate do it for exclusively financial motives -- hence the necessity to create new job opportunities in the country. In this connection, the bishops appealed to the government to elaborate "a plan of general and equitable development."