'We are in human misery, says Franciscan in northern Syria

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'We are in human misery, says Franciscan in northern Syria

By Ellen Teague/ indcatholicnews.com

In a video appeal to Pope Francis, a Franciscan friar in Syria's Idlib Province, Fr Hanna Jallouf, has asked him "to pray for our peace, for our homeland and for our area, because there are so many refugees and many are without a roof and without food."

He reported that, "we are in human misery." He and fellow Franciscan Fr. Louai Beshara are based in the villages of Knayeh and Yacoubieh, where many have nothing to eat or drink and it is bitterly cold. More than 10 children have died in recent weeks from the freezing temperatures. Christians in these villages are caught in crossfire between jihadists and Syrian government forces and Russian warplanes.

Idlib, in northwest Syria, is experiencing one of the biggest humanitarian crises since Syria's war began in 2011. It's under siege by the Syrian regime because of rebels who fled there from other parts of Syria. Syria's former commercial hub of nearby Aleppo remains a bombed-out shell, with shortages of water, electricity, fuel and food. Michelle Bachelet, the UN human rights chief, called on Syria and its allies to permit safe humanitarian corridors in the conflict areas. She said it was "cruel beyond belief" that civilians live under plastic sheeting in sub-zero conditions while their homes are bombed. But Syrian President Bashar Assad is pressing forward with a military campaign that has displaced more than 900,000 people since December.

Idlib province is also seeing a loss of heritage. The hills of the northwest Syria are home to the world's richest repository of 4th, 5th and 6th Century churches - over 2,000 of them - and they are recognised by Unesco as a World Heritage Site. Qalb Lozeh for example, has stood on an Idlib hilltop since AD460, its twin-towered facade flanking a monumental entrance. And St Simeon's Basilica complex, completed in AD 490, was the first centred church beneath a dome, but has been badly war-damaged over the last three years.

Fri, 02/28/2020 - 11:34
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