It’s a sad feeling for Selma, a Syrian displaced person who witnessed the departure of her eldest son for Lebanon. She, and many others, displaced and Syrian refugees, do not want to return to their homes they had to leave hurriedly.
In 2011, when terrorists fell on Christian homes in Idlib, Selma’s family fled. Since then, the family lives with Johaina, Selma’s mother, in the Valley of Christians in the west of the country. When Selma’s husband died three years ago in a car accident, the family was left overnight without support and no savings. The son, who was 16 years old at the time, was the sole breadwinner of his family.
How to heal wounds?
Selma would like to have work again and her own house. But not at Idlib. Even when peace returns, she does not want to go back. “My house is gone. Of my Christian neighbors, none wants to go back, “she says.
Like Selma, some of the displaced and refugees do not want to return. Some of them have lost everything because of the fighting. Others have resurfaced elsewhere and are not really enthusiastic about risking the insecurity of a new job and new housing in a heavily destroyed country with high unemployment. Moreover, there is deep distrust of former Muslim neighbors who, in some places, have actively participated in the conquest and occupation by the extremists.
Thus, some historic Christian localities have only a small community of believers, whereas the Church has been there since the first century AD. It is doubtful whether time can heal these wounds.
Towards a turning point?
However, Christians are returning to places we would never have expected. This is particularly the case of the family of Reznan Berberaska, 22, from Homs. His house on the old war front was rehabilitated in eight months, a small miracle when one sees from the balcony the destruction that reigns in the street.
The Church in Syria is hoping for a turning point as in the Nineveh plain of Iraq. Before the withdrawal of Daesh, only 4 percent of IDPs wanted to return home. Two years later, 45% of the 12,000 homes destroyed were rebuilt and the families returned home.
Reznan’s dream? “Let my street become what it was. “ A legitimate desire but, given the migration of Christians in Syria and the extent of work required on the other hand, the prospects are not very good: Syria will never be what it was, Syria will never be the same country again.