Holding out in Syria
Despite sustained fighting, danger to life and limb and the loss of all their possessions, many Christians are staying in Syria.
This was the report of Jesuit Father Ziad Hilal when he visited the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
"Even in the contested old city of Homs, the Christians are not giving way,” said Father Ziad, who among other things he is responsible for coordinating aid measures in Homs.
“In spite of the fighting, 21 men and women are holding out there with their pastor in order to protect the half-destroyed Jesuit church."
According to Father Ziad, some 4,500 Christian families have now found a provisional, safe refuge in Wadi al-Nasara, the "Valley of Christians," 28 miles to the west of Homs.
Many have lost everything. They live in rented accommodation and rely on donations of clothing and food.
At present, ACN is supporting 2,000 families in the "Valley of Christians" and a further 2,000 in Homs.
Father Ziad asked for continued support: in Homs and the surrounding area aid is urgently needed for 3,000 families, about 18,000 people, and in the "Valley of Christians" a further 2,000 families or 12,000 needy people are waiting for help.
The total number of Syrians who have fled the civil war is estimated at present at 9 million: 6.5 million are on the run within their own country and a further 2.5 million have left Syria.
With picture of children from the Al Adwia quarter of Homs, Syria, receiving aid (© ACN)