Syria vigil and fast
By Michelle Hough, communications officer with Caritas Internationalis
The first time I ever heard of Damascus was in the story of the conversion of Saint Paul. It’s a story that speaks of the possibility of change and forgiveness; where dark hearts are flooded with light and those who persecute can go on to do good.
I was in St Peter’s Square on Saturday night along with around 100,000 people, leaders of other faiths, prelates, Caritas colleagues (thanks to Alfonso for saving me a seat!), Italian politicians and of course Pope Francis to pray for such a change of heart regarding Syria.
As dusk descended over Saint Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said, “God’s world is a world where everyone feels responsible for the other, for the good of the other. This evening, in reflection, fasting and prayer, each of us deep down should ask ourselves: Is this really the […]
By Dana Shahin, Caritas Jordan
Hanan Yousef Abdel-Razaq lost her home and a four-year old daughter during an attack on Dara’a in Syria in January. She fled to Jordan with her two remaining children, sons aged five and three.
Hanan is one of the over half a million Syrian refugees now living in Jordan because it’s too dangerous to remain in Syria where a bloody civil war is raging into its third year. The refugees come with nothing, and need food, shelter, education and healthcare.
One in eight Syrian refugees in Jordan are women or children.
“I heard about Caritas first from my sister,” said Hanan. “When I came here to register, they asked me about my family and I said I had two children. They immediately offered me services for me and for my children.”
Caritas Jordan has register 130,000 Syrian refugees to receive its aid. They will receive food vouchers, help with accommodation, […]
“We had a lovely life,” said Gharam, an 11-year-old Syrian refugee now in Lebanon. “I went to school. I had friends. I was happy.”
That way of life has been torn apart in Syria’s brutal civil war.
Gharam lived Hassakeh in the north-east of Syria. “The most frightening thing was the bombing,” she said. Now her school has been destroyed and she has seen the homes of her friends flattened.
What began with kids writing anti-regime graffiti on a wall in the Syrian town of Deraa in March 2011 has been transformed into a brutal civil war in Syria and the largest humanitarian crisis Caritas is working in today.
There are at least 100,000 people dead, nearly 7 million people in Syria needing aid and 4 million forced from their homes within the country. Over 1.7 million people have fled to neighbouring countries.
But the figures don’t adequately reflect the true cost of the […]
By Patrick Nicholson
“There were bodies everywhere,” said Ali. “We had two choices if we wanted to live: Turkey or Lebanon. We came to Lebanon because I thought I would find work.”
Ali (49), Aaicha (34) and their five children came to Lebanon 18 months ago from Idlib in north-western Syria. The deciding factor was when the next door house was hit by a rocket, killing 18 people.
Life in Syria had gotten progressively worse for them since the start of the conflict in early 2011. There was no electricity or running water. Inflation was rampant. What cost 15 Syrian pounds before the war, now cost 150 Syrian pounds.
“You had to stand in line for three hours just to buy bread,” said Ali. And then there were the bombs, rockets and air attacks.
When they first arrived in Lebanon, the family lived in a small tent. Now they rent a room in Mount […]
By Patrick Nicholson
Since the start of the conflict in 2011 in Syria, over 1.7 million people have fled to neighbouring countries. Lebanon has received the largest number of refugees in the region. Although there are half a million Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon, the true number is estimated to be beyond 1 million.
Every day, Caritas staff meets hundreds of new arrivals from Syria, each with their own account of the horrors they’ve seen. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. “When I hear all their stories, it feels like my head will explode,” said Mireille, a Caritas social worker in Beirut.
Suitable accommodation has long since run out in the small country, and the refugees must find anywhere they can for shelter. Caritas Lebanon is providing aid and care to the Syrian refugees wherever they might be.
Khatar (42) lives with her six children in a cowshed on a farm in the Bekaa […]
Syrian refugees fleeing to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey have lost their homes, their belongings and their jobs or schools. They’ve witnessed war at home and faced a perilous journey to escape. (Caritas emergency appeal on Syria)
Now, as refugees, they live in tents, makeshift apartments or in tiny rooms. In Lebanon, eight of ten need food, seven out of ten need shelter and three-quarters of the children have no access to education.
While much of their suffering is visible, many are also dealing with the trauma of their recent experiences. The refugees are also worried about loved ones still in Syria or transfixed by the stream of terrible news as their country is torn apart. Depression, anxiety, insomnia, neurosis and stress are common.
In a Caritas survey of 950 Syrian men and women refugees aged between 18 and 60 in Jordan, one in five people were in need of some form psychological […]
Pope Francis met with humanitarian groups dealing with the Syrian crisis on Wednesday including those from the Caritas confederation.
“In the face of ongoing and overwhelming violence, I strongly renew my appeal for peace,” said the Holy Father.
The event included representatives from Church organisations including Caritas Syria, Caritas organisations in the region who are assisting the refugees and Caritas organisations from around world supporting the work.
He encouraged the initiatives of the international community to bring an end to the conflict. “The work of various Catholic charitable agencies is extremely significant: assisting the Syrian population, without regard for ethnic or religious affiliation, is the most direct way to contribute to peace,” he said.
Read the text of the Pope’s speech:
I would like to thank you for coming together and for all the humanitarian work which you are doing to aid the suffering peoples of Syria and nearby countries owing to the […]
Caritas has been responding to the needs of Syrians since the first days of the crisis in March 2011, supporting both those inside the country and refugees throughout the region. Caritas has helped more than 100,000 people in need, without discrimination.
However, this is only a temporary remedy. There cannot be an end to the suffering of the Syrian population as long as the fighting continues.
The situation today is desperate. It must stop. Caritas is deeply concerned about the rising number of victims, especially civilians who live in constant fear and in precarious conditions inside Syria. Neighbouring countries have generously kept their borders open, but the rising flow of refugees has brought them economically and socially to their limits.
“What will happen to us, to my family, to my children? Our houses and cities are bombed and all our lives are wounded. I never thought that I was going to look […]
By Bishop Audo of Aleppo, Caritas Syria President For two years Syria has been pulled apart by conflict. Violence and anarchy have become widespread. We have become conditioned by tragedy. Our minds and hearts have been constricted by fear and by caution. But I do my best to keep my heart and eyes open to what is happening. And I’m pained by the terrible poverty I see. A few days ago, I was walking in Souleimanié, a Christian quarter in Aleppo. People were surprised to see me walking alone. Immediately they feared that I might be kidnapped. The kidnappings of two priests and two bishops have traumatized many Christians in Syria. As I walked, I saw four children in their early teens sitting around a table on the pavement playing cards. They were the children of merchants. They no longer go to school but just send their time playing cards. […]