SYRIA – Crisis continues despite ceasefire
A Sister helping Christian families in war-torn Syria has revealed the severity of the on-going crisis across the country – despite the holding ceasefire. Speaking at Aid to the Church in Need’s Area Secretary Conference 2017 at the Karios Centre, Roehampton, Sister Annie Demerjian of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary said: “No house in Syria has been unaffected by war”.
She added: “In Aleppo there is a major shortage of electricity, sometimes we only have it on for one – two hours per day, sometimes not even that and we have to use candles for light. There is a problem with fuel, the government are not able to distribute fuel.” She went on to say: “In Aleppo there is also a water crisis, it is the city without water, sometimes there can be one and a half months without water.”
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has been giving vital help to people in need through local Church partners since the beginning of the conflict and this month the charity announced it will be providing more than £12,500 (€15,000) in medical aid for 2,200 Christian families in Aleppo. The UK office of ACN is also providing more than £140,000 (€170,000) towards emergency aid, by feeding 1,500 families with food parcels for three months in Damascus and the surrounding rural area.
As well as providing the basic essentials to poor families in Aleppo, Sr Annie and her team of volunteers are helping Christian families in Damascus by supplying food vouchers. She described the help for internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Syrian capital who fled northern Syria because of the violence there. Sr Annie said: “In Damascus… we are working with two supermarkets so the families can go and choose what is right for their needs.”
Sr Annie made a request for peace in the Middle East: “During Mass on Shrove Tuesday I was thinking that in Syria we have been in Lent for five years now and I wish one day for the resurrection of Syria, Iraq and the Middle East. “God’s hand is in everything, even in the most difficult of times.” She continued: “We want people to make a bridge of peace, we want peacemakers, all our political parties must come together.”
Sr Annie said: “For me it is an honour to talk to you and say, ‘Thank you’ to ACN’s benefactors for all the support, for all the aid we are receiving.” She confirmed the support is helping Christian families: “You cannot believe how much you are helping the families and how much you are relieving their suffering… You stand with our families to help them stay in their own lands and help them retain their dignity and their lives.”
She added: “Thank God for everything you are doing for us, helping families… We pray for ACN benefactors with open hearts… I have prayed that ACN would say, ‘Yes’ to our appeals for aid, sometimes I have had tears in my eyes when they have been accepted.”
Murcadha O’ Flaherty