Caritas says that fighting in the Syrian city of Hassakeh has forced hundreds of people to flee. Mortar shells and gunfire were heard yesterday in the city centre. People from the outskirts started streaming in to escape clashes between Islamic State extremists and government forces.
Helen, a case worker in Caritas Hassakeh team, said, “We were terrified when we heard the sounds [of bombing and mortars]. In the morning, we simply took our luggage and left”. Helen gave birth only three days ago.
The Caritas centre in Hassakeh has closed and staff have left the city.
Caritas Syria President Msgr Antoine Audo said, “We’re very worried about what is happening in the Al-Jazireh region and in particular the city of Hassakeh, where bombing has caused families to flee.
“We’re particularly concerned for the Christians in the region. A few months ago the inhabitants of 36 Christian villages were forced to flee their homes. We fear that the same thing will be repeated in Hassakeh and Qamishli where large numbers of Christians live.”
People including many Christians have fled to Qamishli. Caritas has a centre there and is preparing to help families who have fled.
“Caritas Syria has made contingency plans and will provide shelter, food, medical treatment and clothes in Qamishli and Malkieh,”said Msgr. Audo.
Local families in Qamishli are opening their houses to the displaced. Joseph More, the director of the Caritas centre in Qamishli said, “People from Hassakeh started arriving to Qamishli. All of them started looking for a place to stay.”
Caritas Hassakeh provided vulnerable Syrians of every faith with access to medical treatment, covering expenses for surgery, tests and x-rays, as well vouchers for food, clothes, school stationary for children and rent support. In 2014, they reached over 20,000 people.