Thursday, January 24, 2013

ACN News - Helping the helpless in Syria

People escaping violence and oppression in Syria are to receive urgent help from leading Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), which is making a series of grants across a region now gripped by a bitter winter.

ACN has approved an initial aid package of $207,100 to provide food, blankets and medicine for people struggling in below-freezing temperatures.

The aid, bound for refugees and displaced people in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, will be distributed through parishes and dioceses, with the expectation of more ACN help to come.

ACN’s announcement on Thursday, Jan. 24th builds on significant emergency help for the region given at regular intervals during 2012, when Christians and others were caught in the cross-fire and suffered deliberate attacks on their communities. 

In making the latest round of aid payments, ACN has responded to appeals for help amid reports of up to four million people in Syria alone lacking food, shelter and clothes.

ACN projects staff reported receiving requests for aid from the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, which has suffered months of violence, and the so-called Valley of Christians (Wadi al-Nasara) near Homs, where the situation facing displaced people is of great concern. 

With Vatican reports within the past month stating that more than 500,000 people have been fleeing Syria, refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan are struggling to cope with the influx of people and need more help, especially in the winter months.

ACN Middle East projects coordinator Fr. Andrzej Halemba described the situation as “increasingly critical,” adding that “the cold is hitting the people hard.”

He said, “Syria’s Christians live in fear. We get reports about how much the people are suffering from the fighting.”

“The tension is almost unbearable. Syria’s Christians do not have any prospects and their future in their own country is uncertain.”

“They rely totally on the Church. That’s why it’s so important to distribute the aid through the structures of the Church.”

Fr. Halemba stressed that pastoral, religious support remained important in this time of humanitarian crisis.

He said, “We can’t simply restrict aid to humanitarian matters. Food, medicine and blankets are important, but as a Church pastoral charity we are also obliged to give the refugees religious sustenance and make ourselves available as pastors.”

With images of refugees in Jordan at a camp close to the border with Syria (© Aid to the Church in Need)

Editor’s Notes:

Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.  ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.

For more information contact Michael Varenne at or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.

1 comment:

Tom Gill said...

People can also help by donating to the CNEWA - Catholic Near East Welfare Association