Syria: Christian community trapped in war zone

Tank outside church in Syria.

Tank outside church in Syria.

 About a thousand Christians, both Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic are trapped in the small village of Yaakoubieh in the north of Aleppo a Franciscan Friar reports.

Fr Francois Kouseiffi OFM Cap, Parish Priest of the church of San Francesco in Hamra, Beirut, in Lebanon, said: "They are completely worn out, with no food, no electricity, lack of basic necessities, and find themselves in the midst of heavy fighting between loyalist forces and opposition groups. They are unable to leave the village and "are in terrible condition, where they risk extinction."

Fr Francois is caring for about 500 Syrian refugees in his parish. The refugees have told him about the plight of the village of Yaakoubieh, where many of their relatives are.

Before the war, there were about 3,000 Armenians, Orthodoxs and Catholic Christians in the village. Most of these have fled. The remaining people are being helped by Franciscan nuns who, says the friar, share the fate of civilians. "The situation is very serious. The faithful are trapped. We are trying in every way to help them to come to Lebanon. In past days, some of our emissaries left to go there, but the journey is dangerous and, after more than a day's journey by land, they reached Aleppo. The contacts with the remaining Christians are sporadic. They launched the alarm for their survival. They risk of dying in the general silence."

Syrian Christians are paying the price of the destabilization of the country and suffering like other Syrian citizens, the priest said. But, he said the fact that they are one of the country's minority groups makes them more vulnerable. Out of the approximately four million Syrian refugees, the Syrian Christians are about 500 thousand, 25 thousand of which are in Lebanon. Recently, Fr Kouseiffi, "the wave of frost has made their condition even more difficult: we are in the middle of a humanitarian emergency."

Source: Fides

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