Beirut (AsiaNews) - More
than 300,000 Christians have fled their villages and towns to escape the war,
but also UN refugee camps, said Issam Bishara, regional director of the
Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and
Speaking to AsiaNews, he said that none of the
displaced families is in UN refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan, where displaced
people are registered as rebels and used for photo ops.
"In Lebanon, about 1,200
families have found shelter with friends or relatives," Bishara said. In fact,
most Christians are not on the lists of the High Commissioner for the UN
Refugee Agency (UNHCR). They refuse to be identified as part of the mostly
Christians prefer to be
neutral, above the conflict between Muslim rebels and Bashar al-Assad's Alawis.
For this reason, they have been surviving without any substantial aid from
major donors like the UNHCR and the Red Cross. Still, "They they need
everything," Bishara explained. "The only support they get is from CNEWA."
Most Christian families
who fled to Lebanon belong to the Armenian Catholic Church in Aleppo or the Greek
Catholic community in Homs and Qasayr.
Some 500 Armenian Catholic
families found refuge with the Christian communities in Bourj Hammoud near
Some 550 Greek Catholic
families from Al-Quasyr and Homs fled to Zhale and Qaa in the Bekaa Valley
where Caritas Lebanon and other Christian organisations are active.
Bkerke, the seat of the
Maronite Patriarchate, opened its doors to 75 families Syro-Catholic families
from Homs. Another 75 Syriac Orthodox families settled in Ajaltoun convent on Mount
However, as time goes
by, "host families do not have enough resources to help Syrian refugees," the CNEWA
director noted. By contrast, "requests are increasing day by day. Soon no one
will be able to afford even the most basic aid."
After two years of
turmoil, the conflict between the regime and the opposition has turned into a full-blown
civil war. Army deserters and Islamist militants have formed armed groups that
have been able to take on Bashar al-Assad's forces.
The clash between Alawis
and Sunnis has attracted fighters from the Middle East and North Africa. Even
Europeans are said to be fighting with jihadist movements active in the area.
Christians in Syria
fear they might suffer the fate of Iraqi Christian communities that have become
the target of Islamic extremists.
Since 2003, Islamists have
targeted minority Christians with murder, attacks and various forms of discrimination,
forcing hundreds of thousands of families to leave their country forever.