Barnabas Aid - International Headquarters River Street, Pewsey, Wilthire. Phone: +44 1672 565030 Latitude: 51 deg 23 min 18 sec N Longitude: 1 deg 45 min 48 sec W .
Editorial: Harrowing report from Barnaba...

Email:

Editorial: Harrowing report from Barnabas partner in war-ravaged Aleppo

To

Email address:
Separate multiple addresses with a comma (,). Maximum of 10

From

Your name:
Your email address:
Security test:
Please enter the numbers that appear here in the box below.
refresh captcha
CAPTCHA Image
Security code:

Details provided here will never be used in any other context

Editorial: Harrowing report from Barnabas partner in war-ravaged Aleppo

Country/Region: Middle East and North Africa, Syria

An injured woman clutches her face in shock and disbelief
Tragedy, injury and privation are devastating lives in Aleppo

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Aid

This week I am giving over my editorial to share with you a harrowing report I received on Tuesday (30 July) from one of our Christian partners, a doctor, in Aleppo, Syria, a devastated city that has been forgotten as the world stands by and fails to intervene on behalf of its traumatised citizens.

He has chosen to stay in that war-ravaged place to help those in need of medical care and is also heavily involved in coordinating our aid to Christians, whose plight is worsening as the fighting rages on.

Here is his report:

Our situation in these hectic, unpredictable days in Aleppo, with no food or meat or bread at ease, no free movement, no security and no encouraging good news on the horizon, reminds me of the words of Habakkuk:

Though the fig-tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, YET I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in GOD my Saviour.” (Hab 3:17-18)

Many sounds heard and continuing to be heard!! Are you still there? How come you don’t move out? What about your family? How they can do without you? Many questions such these and no one can find the proper convincing answers to them.

Is it right to say, “Gone with the wind!” Of course not. My hope and trust is in the Lord who is my light and my salvation, who is the stronghold of my life. (Psalm 27:1)

Where are we heading after two and a half years since the beginning of the war in Syria in mid-March 2011? And now it is more than one year since the beginning of the war in Aleppo in late June 2012. Everyone among our friends abroad may be wondering.

At the national level, nothing has changed since then apart from more suffering and more losses of souls and belongings. The two sides of the war continue to confront each other with no clear winner or loser at a cost of: more than 100,000 killed, more than a million and half refugees in the neighbouring countries, and more than 3.8 million internally displaced people (IDPs). Hundreds of thousands have migrated to Europe and the Americas.

The economy is in ruins and no one can predict how long it will remain like this. Sectarianism and extremism are flourishing and there is no glimmer of hope for a settlement to such mounting conflict. Following the retaking of al-Qusayr (a strategic region in the centre of Syria, south-west of Homs and near the border with Lebanon) by the Syrian army and the defeat of the rebels there, the leaders of the Western world declared that the fall of al-Qusayr showed that the balance of power had shifted to the government side and that it was necessary for them to arm the rebels in order to re‐establish equilibrium! What a way of thinking!! They simply want to re‐establish equilibrium so that both sides will continue to fight ... to the last Syrian? Just imagine the satanic way of thinking! “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Saviour; my God will hear me. Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise (with my nation). Though I (we) sit in darkness (since no electricity), the Lord will be my (our) light”. Micah 7:7-8 (italics are mine).

In Aleppo, the military situation is at a status quo: the last [major] battle took place on Good Friday 29 March 2013, “120 days ago”, with the capture of the Sheikh Maksoud quarter (Djabal Al Sayde) by the rebels. There have been no [major] combats since, but bombardments here and there with hundreds of houses, building, shops, offices and homes damaged. On the other hand, the humanitarian situation is getting worse and towards a catastrophic status, considering three important facts:

(1) The blockade of Aleppo:[1] has lasted now for more than 40 days: blocking of people, nobody can leave the city to go elsewhere, even to other nearby Syrian towns or abroad; blocking of merchandise, nothing can get into Aleppo. There are no more vegetables, fruits, milk, cheese, meat, chicken or fish, no fuel, gas (for cooking) and very little bread. There remain only imperishable supplies at the grocers such as rice, lentils, canned goods ... but at astronomical prices the majority cannot afford. It must be said that one dollar was worth 50 Syrian pounds (LS) before the war, 180 LS a month ago and 300 LS a couple of weeks back then came down again to be around 200+ LS. With all this and the income of families remaining the same, prices are escalating to ten times more than the original cost.

Just to give a couple of simple, painful examples: one of the kitchens for the Christian charitable association “Al-Ihsan”, which used to provide daily meals for 35,000 IDPs[2], has been closed down for lack of gas, fuel, staff and ingredients; and the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), which used to provide 15,000 daily meals, will be closing down as well soon. So, 50,000 IDPs who are staying in different schools since early 2012 will be without food.

Another aspect, and as a funny result, of the lack of fuel, vehicles cannot be used and the forced march imposed upon all of us has become the sport of the people in Aleppo – just walk wherever you like, and keep on walking; we’re spending more time on the roads at high risk. It is supposed to be good for the health of course, if only the average temperature was not 40 degrees! Almost every person has lost weight, about 8-18kg.

The inhabitants have waited in vain for protests by the Western public (so prompt at protesting over the slightest offence) and the pressure of its leaders on the rebels to lift the blockade. It is no longer a military or political problem but a humanitarian issue. Starving a population of 2.5 million people is logically a crime against humanity for those who believe in peace and justice. To be silent is to accept the rule of Western politicians: two weights, two measures.

(2) Mortar fire[3]: Every day, mortar shells fall on the quarters inhabited especially by Christians and Armenians. Those mortars are fired by the rebels; they are homemade but are still causing some deaths and seriously wounding dozens. The smell of death is everywhere nowadays. Just in the last couple of weeks in our Christian society, a boy of 14 years, a scout, died from a piece of shrapnel in his head while he was at home; a girl of eight years received a splinter in the brain; a young woman of 30, a hairdresser, had to have her left arm amputated below the elbow as a result of an injury; a man of 70 was wounded in the spine when he was coming out of church service. Above all those shocking stories, the most tragic event happened last week: a traveling Pullman bus with more than 35 Armenian passengers from Aleppo to Beirut was attacked by the rebels on the safe military road, resulting in five deaths and more than 30 wounded and badly injured. Four families were planning to migrate to Armenia; two of them (they were my patients at my clinic earlier) were wounded and one lost the mother, who had two children. These are a few examples among many other tragedies.

Two kidnapped Syrian archbishops on the front page of the Al-Jumhoriah Journal
Two kidnapped Syrian archbishops on the front page of the Al-Jumhoriah Journal

(3) Capturing and kidnapping Christians (mainly the Armenian lay people): what a nightmare to every single Armenian and Christian who plans to leave Aleppo for a safe haven. As you may remember, hundreds have already been kidnapped and no news so far about them, including the two senior archbishops, two elderly fathers and hundreds of young men. Just four days ago, four young Armenian chaps were kidnapped while leaving for Armenia and sadly, last night, 29 July, two very young brothers, aged 12 and14, were kidnapped while planning to join their father in Istanbul, leaving their mother alone. How you can imagine the heart of this mother and the soul and spirit of these two youngsters? So far no news or any information. If a ransom is requested, it will be unaffordable and unfeasible.

In this context of violence, privation, desolation, suffering and despair, we continue, as Christian humanitarian committees in Aleppo and all over Syria, through our presence, our resistance, our support, our aid and our solidarity to be there for the people, a glimmer of hope in the darkness that surrounds us.

What are you saying? I am right in what I am hearing that you are still there, you have not left like the others? And we continue our action with the refugees, the deprived, the IDPs and the wounded.

Where are we now with our projects and missions? Let me paint a few lines. There are three major missions and works that we are carrying out:

  1. Joseph’s Food Relief Aid: mainly supported by Barnabas Aid since 2011, and to some extent by a few other small gifts and donations, every now and then, for the poor Syrian families and IDPs. Till now we are supporting, on a monthly basis, more than 2,168 families through more than 17 local committees.
  2. A diagram showing how contributions to 3 local funds is benefiting the whole of the Christian society
    Isaac’s Water Supply – Digging Wells: supporting the societies and our heavily populated Christian residential areas with water, through three stages, and 14 phases, by digging wells in church yards, Christian school yards, monasteries or Christian institutions. So far we have finished seven phases with a lot of gratitude from the nearby families and leaders.
  3. Luke’s Medical Care and Support: since last year, more medical needs are building up. One of the Christian hospitals has set up a grant for “War-Wounded Patients”, making their treatment free of charge. More than 23 patients have benefited so far; each patient costs around Euro 1,560-3,000). Beside this, two new policlinics have been established that are providing patients with free consultations, medicine and surgery.

 

That is where we are. We are trying to resist despite of all that has been said; resist after exactly one year, 365 days of war. We resist pessimism, resist fatigue, resist discouragement and extremism. As Jean Debruynne [4] said, "To resist, is to never give up looking out for the sun through the opening of a sewer outlet"; and "To resist, is to be stubborn enough to see the day arise behind barbed wire".

We do serve the One who deserves to be served.

 

This report makes it abundantly clear that Syrian Christians are in desperate need of our prayers, practical support and encouragement.

Surgeons and nurses carry out what appears to be emergency care
Barnabas is helping with medical and surgical costs for the sick and wounded

Barnabas Aid has been standing with them throughout the catastrophe that has befallen their country and is continuing to provide aid to thousands in need.

Please support this vital ministry in prayer and, if you are able, with a financial gift. (Middle East Fund to help Christians in Syria 00-1032)



[1]At the moment of writing this letter, it seems that the blockade is slightly alleviated or has been circumvented a bit.

[2]Almost all of them are from non-Christian backgrounds.

[3]Last night, 30 July 2013, more than 36 mortars and shells hit our heavily populated Christian residential areas.

[4]Jean Debruynne was a priest of Mission de France. Poet and author, he accompanied many movements, including The Scouts and Guides of France, Sharing and Meeting, etc.

Help us: Share this article

Email:

Editorial: Harrowing report from Barnabas partner in war-ravaged Aleppo

To

Email address:
Separate multiple addresses with a comma (,). Maximum of 10

From

Your name:
Your email address:
Security test:
Please enter the numbers that appear here in the box below.
refresh captcha
CAPTCHA Image
Security code:

Details provided here will never be used in any other context

christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

Other articles

View Timeline

There is a Church in Syria

Follow Barnabas

or

receive news & appeal emails as they are published

From Twitter

From Twitter_icon

    Daily prayer

    Daily prayer_icon
    • Please pray for Christians in northern Cameroon, where Boko Haram is terrorising people, especially Christians and security forces, just as in neighbouring Nigeria. The Islamist militants openly declare themselves to be Boko Haram, and issue threats by letter, including to pastors telling them they must leave. Two pastors were killed in the village of Assigashia on the night of 25-26 August, hich has caused great distress and consternation. The Cameroonian Christians ask for prayer that God will bring peace and security, that the kidnapped will be released, that believers will stand firm despite being targeted, that God will comfort the traumatised, and that church leaders will know how to prepare their people for persecution. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 7 hours ago

    • “The cathedral in Damaturu now has only about 40 members instead of 450 members. The church in Potiskum now has only about 15 members instead of 500 members… the southern part of [Yobe state] is still very dangerous and most of the churches here have closed down.” A senior church leader in Nigeria wrote to Barnabas Aid in August about the impact on the Church of Boko Haram’s violence. Nevertheless Christians were still holding worship services every Sunday, discipling the young people and even commissioning pastors. Praise God for such perseverance, and pray that a Christian presence and witness may remain in north-east Nigeria. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Heavenly Father, we pray to You for our Christian brothers and sisters in north-eastern Nigeria, who are so vulnerable in the face of attacks by Boko Haram militants. We remember especially those who used to live in Madagali, in Adamawa state, until their town was seized by Boko Haram two months ago. We think of those who were betrayed into the hands of Boko Haram by their neighbours pointing out Christian homes or places where Christians had hidden. We bring before You those who saw their menfolk beheaded, and women forcibly converted to Islam. We cry out to You to intervene and bring an end to the murderous attacks by Boko Haram. We pray for all the thousands of Nigerian Christians who have suffered in similar attacks that they will not lose hope or faith in You, but will know Your peace which passes understanding. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Pray for a pastor in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania whose home was attacked on 17 May; two of his children were injured. When he went to report the incident to the police, he was falsely accused of raping a young woman who had left Islam to follow Christ. The pastor had taken her into his home, along with four other converts, after she was thrown out by her family; it was they who made the accusation against him. He has faced much opposition because of his fruitful outreach to Muslims, and several failed attempts have been made to frame him with false accusations. Pray that the sovereign Lord will help him and that he will not be disgraced (Isaiah 50:7-9). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Oct 2014 00:00

    • A church on Mafia Island, part of the Zanzibar archipelago, was attacked on 9 May by around 80 young Muslim men armed with arrows and knives. The church members, who are mainly converts from Islam, had gathered for their weekly overnight prayer session when the attackers appeared, shouting “death to ritad’i” (those who leave Islam). They set fi re to the church, leaving the interior in ruins, and then went in search of the pastor, but he was not at home. The incident followed a bomb blast at another church in Mwanza in mainland Tanzania on 5 May, in which a worker at the church rest house was critically injured. Pray that the authorities will effectively address the increasing incidence of attacks against churches. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Oct 2014 00:00

    © Barnabas Aid 1997 - 2014 All rights reserved.
    Barnabas Aid is a registered trade mark