NEW YORK (CNS) — Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity helping persecuted Christians around the world, has pledged $2.8 million in emergency aid to help Christians in Syria.
They have “benefited only to a limited extent” from relief provided by the United Nations and secular nongovernmental organizations, the charity said.
“In many cases, Christians are reluctant to register themselves with aid agencies (and) formally identify themselves as Christians for fear of extremist Muslim reprisals who persecute Christians for their faith and their perceived support of the Syrian regime,” it said in announcing the aid.
“Relief efforts have been hampered across the board,” the charity added, “due to continued fighting and the dramatic rise” of the Islamic State, known as ISIS.
Aid to the Church in Need will fund a number of projects to help sizable Christian communities in Aleppo, Homs, Damascus and other Syrian cities and villages hard hit by the war, said Father Andrzej Halemba, the head of the charity’s Middle East section.
Since the outbreak of Syria’s civil war in spring 2011, the death toll has exceeded 200,000, according to several monitoring groups.
Hundreds of Christians have died and tens of thousands have been driven from their homes, the charity said. “Countless families are without a reliable source of income; children and youth are barred from continuing their education: half of all the country’s schools are damaged, destroyed or used as shelter for fighters.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrian Christians have become refugees in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.
Official estimates put the number of people affected by the war in Syria at 12.2 million people.
About 7.8 million have been displaced internally, while 4.8 million Syrians live in barely accessible parts of the country or in active war zones. Some 5.6 million children are directly affected by the war; 3 million students are no longer able to attend school.
Father Halemba, citing concerns of local church leaders, said there is “a new and, unfortunately, justified fear of religious cleansing. The Islamic State openly shows its murderous intentions against anyone who does not bend to its brand of extremism.”
Aside from “confronting the threat of ISIS,” the international community has “drifted into a form of neglect of the Syrian crisis,” the priest said.
With its emergency assistance, Aid to the Church in Need said it will, among other things, provide 4,500 vulnerable families with money funds to pay for oil, gas electricity and cover rent for four months; ensure medical supplies for communities in Aleppo and Hassake for six months; pay for repairs at a half dozen schools; and help repair badly damaged churches, catechetical centers and diocesan offices.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103