02/22/2012, 00.00
SYRIA

Threatened by violence, Christians flee Syria, says Aleppo archbishop

Mgr Audo urges Catholics to pray for peace and the reconciliation of the Syrian people. Caritas gives food and basic necessities to 500 Christian and Muslim families in Homs, the city most affected by the civil war. Two Western journalists are killed in Homs' Baba Amr district.

Aleppo (AsiaNews) - "Christians are the minority most threatened by Syria's civil war and are trying to flee the country. They feel defenceless against the escalation of violence that has raged in the country for months. Pray for peace and the reconciliation of the Syrian people!" Mgr Antoine Audo, Caldean archbishop of Aleppo, told AsiaNews.

"We Christians are the weakest psychologically and in terms of self-defence," the prelate explained. "For us, fleeing is our only salvation, like in other Middle Eastern countries, especially Iraq. All this does serious harm to the Church and the Christian presence in Syria."

Reiterating the call for dialogue launched by the pope in the Angelus of 12 February, Mgr Audo noted that, despite their fear, Christians can be a bridge between the various warring factions.

"Our presence united around the Church helps Christians and Muslims work together for the good of the country, pushing towards reconciliation rather than vengeance."

The prelate cited the work by Caritas Syria, which has began an aid programme in Homs, one of the cities most affected by the violence, on behalf of 500 families, 400 Christian and 100 Muslim. In six months, each household will receive foot and basic necessities worth US$ 600.

Caritas is also actively helping senior citizens and the sick through its volunteers, who are drawn from Aleppo's entire Christian community in.

Meanwhile, two foreign journalists, Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin and freelance French photo-reporter Rémi Ochlik, were killed in Homs' Baba Amr district. The two were in a building used by rebels as a communications centre when it came under shellfire from Syrian security forces. After it took a direct hit, it collapsed. (S.C.)

 

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