Tuesday, February 17, 2004

ymca in the news and rightly so ......

Ex-hostage urges Mid-East peace
Former Beirut hostage Terry Waite has urged Israelis and Palestinians to work for peace and said he is not bitter about his time in captivity.
The Briton spoke on a visit to Beddawi refugee camp in northern Lebanon - part of his first trip back to the country since his 1992 release from captivity.

The Archbishop of Canterbury's former special envoy was held by the radical Islamic group Hezbollah for five years.

He has returned to Lebanon for the YMCA's Y-Care International scheme.

Many people have said to me, 'Are you not angry, bitter about your capture?'... I don't agree with what they did. But I am not bitter
Terry Waite
During his visit Mr Waite will meet young people who benefit from Y-Care - the development agency of the Young Men's Christian Association - and collect material for the organisation's 20th anniversary events.

He also plans to visit Gaza and east Jerusalem.

'A passion for peace'

Children at the camp greeted Mr Waite and wrapped a scarf in the Palestinian colours around his neck, AFP news agency reported.

"There is no reason at all that Israelis and Palestinians cannot live together. But both parties must be prepared to give each other a chance," Mr Waite said.

"Do not allow anger to destroy you. Maintain a passion for peace, and a vision for your children so that they may have the opportunity to live in peace and harmony with their neighbours."

Speaking about his years in captivity, Mr Waite said: "Many people have said to me, 'Are you not angry, bitter about your capture?'"

"I replied, 'I don't agree with what they did. But I am not bitter,'" he was quoted as saying by AFP.


Mr Waite's ordeal began in 1987 when he was seized as he attempted to negotiate the release of hostages on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

He spent most of his years in captivity in darkness, chained and in solitary confinement.

On Monday Mr Waite told the BBC he thought his trip would be interesting.

"Lebanon has changed dramatically since I was there. I have memories of a city in ruins, I gather it has been rebuilt."

Asked how he would feel about meeting the people who held him hostage, Mr Waite replied that he thought it was "highly unlikely".

"But I wouldn't mind meeting them. It would be very interesting to see where they are some years later."

Y care is a worthy charity for support