History of the International Caritas Peace Camp Project

The first camp gathering children from different countries and religions took place during summer 1999 in Kfarseta, a village for handicapped run by the local NGO "Terre des Hommes Syria”, near Tartus in Syria at the Mediterranean coast. Lebanese, Syrian and Egyptian children participated in this camp. The project was a great success and all parties and participants expressed their wish for it to be continued.

In 2000, the second camp took place at a convent of the Sisters of Charity in Ehden in North Lebanon. In addition to the nationalities that already participated the last year, Palestinian refugee children coming from different camps in Lebanon joined this summer event for the first time.

Given the great success of this camp again, the project became a yearly tradition, organized in a different place every year with the aim of always integrating a new nationality.

The host country in 2001 was Egypt. The camp, very well organized by Caritas Egypt, took place in Alexandria at "Tito”, a convent of the Sisters of Charity and for the first time a group of Jordanian children participated to it.

In summer 2002, Caritas Jordan received the camp under the patronage of Queen Rania Al-Abdullah, at the German school in the suburbs of Amman. Iraqi refugee children living in Jordan joined the other nationalities for the first time.

Due to the war in Iraq in 2003, the camp unfortunately could not take place, especially because after the end of the war there was not enough time for necessary preparations.

Egypt was the host country again in 2004, and the convent "Tito” in Alexandria and a convent of Copt-Catholic Sisters near Cairo opened their doors for accommodation. For the first time, a group from Libya and a group of Sudanese children took part. Meanwhile, the participation of Iraqi children turned out to be impossible due to the political situation. The theme of the camp was "friends beyond borders”.

In 2005, the camp was held at the Technical School St. Joseph of the Lazarist Fathers at Dahr Es-Sawane, close to Bikfaya in the Lebanese mountains, and was organized in collaboration with Caritas. For the first time the project became known as the "International Caritas Peace Camp” with a special focus on "peace”.

The 2006 camp was held in Jordan for the second time , again at the German school "Theodor Schneller”, not far from Amman. This camp was organized in collaboration with the association "SOS children’s villages Jordan” and with the logistic support of Caritas Jordan under the patronage of Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan. For the first time a group of Yemeni children participated.
The 2006 camp was very much affected by the terrible events in Lebanon (Israeli attacks on Lebanon) and the resulting consequences (difficulty to bring back the Lebanese and Palestinian children to Lebanon during the war).

Unfortunately the camp had to be cancelled in 2007 because of the bad political situation in the whole region, but especially in Lebanon.

The 2008 camp was organised for the third time in Egypt in collaboration with Caritas Egypt. Participants were again hosted in Tito convent of the Sisters of Charity in Alexandria. Due to security concerns only children from five nationalities (Egypt, Sudan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen) participated in this camp. A comprehensive evaluation on the whole International Caritas Peace Camp Project was carried out that year by a professional evaluation team from CRS (Catholic Relief Services) and the resulting document clearly showed the very positive impact of this unique project.

During summer 2009 the camp for the third time took place in Lebanon and for the second time at the St. Joseph Technical School (as in 2005). The local partner for the implementation of the project was Caritas Lebanon Migrants Center. Children from eight different nationalities participated to this camp.

From July 14th to August 4th 2010 the last International Caritas Peace Camp  for  unprivileged children from the Middle East so far took place in Alexandria, Egypt. This peace project took place for the 10th time and, therefore, it was a very special anniversary.

The camp was organised and conducted with close collaboration offered by Caritas Egypt, who hosted this unique project for the fourth time. The participants from eight different countries of the region (Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Sudan, Yemen and Egypt) were, as in the previous years, accommodated at the Daughters of Charity's "Tito" Convent.