Despite drop in violence, Syria continues to suffer
"I wish one day for the resurrection of Syria, Iraq and the Middle East."
NEW YORK—“No household in Syria has been unaffected by war” and the country’s
recovery process will be long and hard. That was the assessment of Sister Annie
Demerjian of the Sisters of Jesus, speaking recently in London at a meeting sponsored
by international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
Sister Demerjian said: “In Aleppo there is a major shortage of electricity,
sometimes we only have it on for one or two hours per day, sometimes not even
that and we have to use candles for light;” she added that the government is
unable to distribute adequate supplies of fuel for cooking and heating
sister, who spends considerable time in Aleppo helping both Christian and
Muslim residents of Aleppo, described Syria’s second-largest urban center as “a
city without water,” with a lack of supply that can continue for weeks on end.
ACN has supported
Syrian Christians since the beginning of the country’s civil war. This month, ACN
will provide some $18,000 to provide medical aid for 2,200 families in Aleppo. Working
with local supermarkets, Sister Annie and her team of volunteers distribute
food vouchers to the needy and often displaced people in both Aleppo and
Damascus, with, for example, $185,000 supplying 1500 families in and around the
Syrian capital with food essentials for three months. Seventy percent of Aleppo
residents live below the poverty line.
A crucial program ACN
has been supporting for the past two years is called “A Drop of Milk.”
It provides much needed milk to more than 2800 Christian children in Aleppo,
the majority receiving powdered milk, with special milk given to infants. The
yearly cost of the program is $235,000.
Georgina, a mother of three, stressed how crucial the program is in particular
for the well-being of her daughter Pamela (6). The little girl was hit by
shrapnel and was in critical condition. “Now that she is recovering, she needs
milk to become healthier and stronger,” her mother said. Each of her children
receives just over two pounds of milk powder each month.
Sister Annie concluded her presentation with a prayer and appeal for peace, saying:
“during Mass I was thinking that in Syria we have been in Lent for five years
now and I wish one day for the resurrection of Syria, Iraq and the Middle East.”
In this video message, Melkite Archbishop
Jean-Clément Jeanbart of Aleppo expresses his sorrow about the damage done to
his Church, along with hope for a renaissance of his community. In this video message, Father Ziad Hilal, SJ, ACN’s
special representative in Syria who also works with Jesuit Relief Services,
shows off a devastated youth center in Aleppo that the local Church hopes to
Aleppo children receive their monthly supply of milk powder; ACN photo