An Outstretched hand


This photo was taken by a colleague when I was in Beirut as Lebanon recovered from 17 years of civil war. It shows part of a statue in the city’s central Martyrs Square, the bullet holes a grim reminder of the battles fought around it.

The photo reminds me that Lebanon, like its neighbouring countries in the Near East, has long responded to the outstretched hands of refugees fleeing war. For many years host to camps for Palestinian refugees, the country is now a place of refuge for people escaping Syria and Iraq.

Another sanctuary is Uganda, where I visited UN workers helping refugees sheltering from conflict in South Sudan, Eritrea, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as internal threats.

Lebanon and Uganda have little choice to deal with the influx across their borders, but for the most part they do their best to help, supported by local and international agencies.

I feel comforted by the knowledge that organisations such as Devon County Council and Refugee Support Devon are reaching out their hands to refugees in our part of the world in what is surely a global human challenge.

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