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» 01/28/2013
LEBANON - SYRIA
Christians in Syria, targeted by Islamic extremists and bombs
by Simone Cantarini
Issam Bishara, head of the Syrian branch of the Papal agency that aids Catholic churches and the people of the Middle East (CNEWA) speaks: "The Christian way of life is at risk, and refugees in Lebanon are not entitled to help from the International community ". CNEWA and the local Church help over 4 thousand families who are victims of bombings, kidnappings and harassment by Islamic extremists.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Christians in Syria suffer like the rest of the population, Muslim, Alawite, Sunni. They, however, have one more problem: the spread of Islamic extremism, which threatens to turn the country into a new Iraq", says Issam Bishara, regional director of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA)  for Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and Iraq, speaking to AsiaNews. The official cited the cases of Homs and Qusayr, where the Islamists having taken control of the city, are driving Christian families from their homes.

He said that in the early months of the war, many families found refuge in the coastal cities of Syria, in what was once called the "Christian strip." However, the spread of war and the descent into the field of Islamic extremist brigades - particularly the al-Nousra militias - "these cities are now almost deserted, but there are thousands of families who have chosen or been forced to stay because of risks involved travelling to Lebanon. "

According to Bishara embargos means getting aid to the displaced is impossible. To face the emergency, CNEWA works in collaboration with the local Church. In addition to members of international organizations, religious orders and priests of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate are the only ones who can operate on the territory. Priests and religious people often face the drama of summary killings, abuses and kidnappings by foreign jihadists for funds, which mainly affect the Christian minority.

At present, the association helps about 3 thousand families: 300 in Tartous (coastal town west of the country) through the convent of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, 1000 in the valley of Wadi al Nasara, located to the west of the country and known as the Valley of Christians . They are under the protection of the greek-orthodox Patriarchate and the Catholic Church. In Homs, a stronghold of Sunni Muslims among the most ravaged by civil war, as many as 800 Orthodox and Catholic families remained in the city. To help these people, there are the Jesuits and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. The number of Christian families still in the capital is about 600. they are felpe by the mission of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd and the Greek-Catholic Patriarchate. Finally, in Hassake (northern Syria), the Society of St. Vincent de Paul takes care of about 1200 displaced Christians.

To 3 thousand families in Syria are added thousands of refugees, who, since the beginning of 2012 have chosen to flee the country, trying to cross the border with Lebanon. "In the beginning - says Bishara - they found refuge among relatives and friends, hoping for a quick return home." However, in recent months the situation has worsened. The hope of seeing their villages and their loved ones in Syria is increasingly small. "They - he says - are not eligible for aid because they reside outside of the refugee camps and their hosts can not keep them. What will become of these people in the coming months?".

The official said that so far CNEWA supports about 1,000 Christian famiglie who have fled to Lebanon, distributing clothes, hot meals and basic necessities. "Unfortunately - he explains - the demands are increasing day by day and we are the only ones to provide this type of service. Our fear is not being able to help all those who request it. Which is why we need the support of Western countries and all Catholics who want to help these people, behind which is the face of the suffering Christ. "


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See also
07/19/2013 SYRIA - LEBANON
CNEWA's humanitarian fight for Syrian refugees
01/17/2013 SYRIA - LEBANON
Caritas Lebanon: Help us save refugees from Syria
01/02/2014 LEBANON - SYRIA
For Beirut Archbishop, Maaloula is sign of the crisis of Arab civilisation
by Fady Noun
02/11/2011 LEBANON
Lebanese Sunnis play the confessional card against Hizbollah
by Fady Noun
11/27/2013 SYRIA - LEBANON
In Lebanon, more than 800,000 Syrian refugees living in the open or shacks

Editor's choices
EGYPT - ISLAM
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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