Radio “Voice of lebanon” in beirut interviewed Dr Nick kahwaji (WLCU Representative to ECOSOC-United nations).by Mrs Nawal abdo lishaa-program Adwaa.
Read summary of the Interview in English:
Title of the Interview:
The role of the WLCU in the Diaspora in building bridges with the mother country, and its role in the ECOSOC of the United Nations.
Questions: Is WLCU divided or not? Why? Is this situation affecting you?
WLCU is not divided. Physically it exists outside Lebanon. There is no Emigration inside Lebanon
The ministry of emigration created another group and recognized it.
The difference is we are a NGO, meaning independent from the Lebanese government and independent from the Lebanese political parties.
The other groups belong and accept to be under the authority of the ministry of emigration.
This situation is somehow affecting us; we see that many intellectuals, that share our values, but hesitate to join.
Questions: How are you conducting your mission and building bridges with Lebanon.
WLCU is the juridical framework that connects the Lebanese associations worldwide. We strive to keep the Lebanese cultural identity alive in our descendent.
Every entity, in every city, is constantly trying to keep in touch with its local community, in continuous effort to organize this community, and to keep it in touch with Lebanon, and to encourage its members to participate in any fundraising or projects that benefit Lebanon.
For example: 100 Lebanese youth are today in Lebanon in a way to be connected with the mother country.
Questions: What does it mean you are recognized by the DPI of the UN? And accredited by the ECOSOC?
It took the WLCU, 9 years to be recognized by the UN system as an NGO, at least it means we are independent from Lebanese Government and Lebanese political parties. The fact that we are accredited with the ECOSOC and we have a consultative status with them, it will able us, at this time, to raise the issue of the Syrian refugees, as we do not have the infrastructure to support 1.5 million people who came into Lebanon lately.
Question: Do you expect a positive answer?
Answer: We need the international community to take responsibility toward this issue, Lebanon could not alone find a solution, even though there are many proposed solutions, Lebanon needs help in the security issue as well as to improve its infrastructure.
Question: How are you conducting your worldwide affaires in correlations with the UN mission statement?
Answer: As we know, the WLCU exists in six geographical regions. 5 geographical regions obeyed directly by the internal regulations of the WLCU. The sixth region –BRAZIL- is regulated under the cooperation treaty between the Confederation of Libano-Brasilien (CONFELIBRA) and the WLCU. Every party conducts solely its own affairs, without interfering in the affairs of the other counterpart.
In this structure, every entity is lobbying its own government, in every issue that matters to Lebanon.
Question: Lebanon is suffering today in all aspects, how are you helping on personal basis and or collective basis.
Answer: On a personal basis, every Lebanese is helping individually and we are encouraging that .On the collective work, and trying to reach a long-term solution, during my last visit to the UN, I proposed to hold an international conference in Beirut for the NGO associated with the DPI, under the title: Dialogue of cultures and dialogue of religions
Question: what does the Dialogue of cultures means? What is accepting the other?
Answer: I came to visit my Family in Abra, and it is easy to find, from the media, that no one is willing to accept the other. Or to at least accept that: the other person could be different, without having differences with him. Our objective is to work with the UN to create a booklet that outlines what the dialogue means, to educate the young students in Lebanon and in the whole Middle East.
A UN booklet that explain the meaning and the benefit of dialogue, like the Human right booklet of the UN.
Question: What does the Lebanese Emigrant stamp mean?
Answer: I told Minister Sehnaoui, that the Lebanese state did honor and recognize a few immigrants or descendants at certain time, but by issuing the Emigrant stamp, you are recognizing the role of the whole Lebanese Diaspora. I believe our kids knows now that the government could do something for them .
Question: What is next?
Answer: We will celebrate the “International day of the Lebanese Emigrant” in Vancouver, we will be inviting the Chocolate painter from NY, and we will try to prepare a symposium of the dialogue of culture with the Simon Fraser University.
Question: I wonder why the Lebanese expatriate won’t visit Lebanon and buy from its markets to revive the economy?
Answer: People are afraid to come. The media does not encourage them. I came only with my brother!
Question: What did you find?
Answer: I came to visit my family, after the latest destruction, war and religious tensions; I find that my home town has a big role to play. We all know that ABRA –the Greek Catholic village-was completely destroyed in 1985, and like the Phoenix, it was reborn from its ashes in the 1990. Today ABRA acquired a different mission: a messenger for the dialogue of religions and cultures in South Lebanon.
The municipality of ABRA invited the Sunni leaders of SAIDA and the Shiite leaders of EL HARA for a religious dinner “IFTAR”, under the auspices of the patriarch Gregory Lahham. The byzantine prayer with the Muslim prayers at the church, were mixed in a peaceful joy.
I believe this is its destiny now, and that is how I see the Dialogue of cultures: to start in a small christian village of south Lebanon and to spread to the whole world.