A decade of war and sanctions have led to the collapse of Syria’s Christian population

From about 8-10 per cent before the war, the community has dropped to the current 3 per cent. No official statistics exists but the decline is evident “especially among young people,” source told AsiaNews. Should Europe and Canada “open their doors to immigration”, there is a real danger of another exodus. Christian parties try to build unity.

Damascus (AsiaNews) – About two thirds of Syria’s Christian population has fled the country since the start of its brutal civil war in the spring of 2011, this according to the Assyrian Democratic Organisation (ADO), a party linked to the Kurdish autonomous administration in north-eastern Syria (Rojava).

A decade ago, Christians constituted about 8-10 per cent of the Syrian population; now they are a bare 3 per cent. This is the case in Kurdish majority areas, like Jazira in the north-east, where the number dropped from 150,000 to just 55,000.

However, the decline has also been reported in areas under government control where economic difficulties, lack of resources, general impoverishment due to sanctions, and the COVID-19 pandemic have fuelled the exodus.

A n anonymous Catholic source in the capital told AsiaNews that "there are no precise statistics" on the number of Christians who have left the nation; however, it can be said that their presence "has decreased a lot during the past 10 years of war.”

Several bishops, priests and pastors "have noticed this decline, especially among young people” as well.

“In the event that Europe and Canada should open their doors to immigration, many Syrians, especially Christians, will leave".

Fr Ibrahim Alsabagh, custodian and priest of the Latin parish of Aleppo, spoke recently of the difficulties of the Christian population, especially the youth population, in a “Letter to friends”.

For the 50-year-old Franciscan religious, "there are many problems that block the possible recovery of Syria" and that favour the continuous exodus.

In the future, he warns, the “priority of pastoral action is aimed at young people and couples” who intend to marry at a historical juncture in which “getting married is a heroic act of faith”.

At the political level, various Christian groups are undertaking some initiatives aimed at unity and collaboration, the only way to acquire greater economic, social and political weight.

In this regard, further confirmation comes regarding the decision of the Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO) and the Syriac Union Party (SUP) to start talks to “boost their influence in the country”.

SUP leader Henna Sewime told Rudaw, a Kurdish news media network, that the talks are centred around three fundamental points: Christian unity, a united Syria, and the recognition of Christians in the future constitution of the country.