Published: 13:00 GMT Standard Time - Friday 02 March 2012
Respite in Homs: Barnabas Fund on hand with aid for Christians
Country/Region: Middle East and North Africa, Syria
Barnabas Fund is on hand to get emergency aid to Christians who have been trapped in Homs following the withdrawal of anti-government forces from the Baba Amr district.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) said yesterday (Thursday 1 March) that it was pulling out of the area, which has been devastated in a month-long siege.
A major humanitarian relief effort is now underway to help Baba Amr residents, who are without power and running out of basic supplies in freezing weather conditions.
Barnabas Fund is working, through church partners on the ground in Homs and the surrounding areas, to get food, clothing and medicine to Christian families in urgent need.
A senior Christian leader told Barnabas Fund that until Monday (27 February), people, including Christians, had been blocked from leaving Homs by anti-government forces. He said that the fighters wanted to keep them there as “human shields” in a bid to protect the areas they controlled from government troops. After negotiation, some, particularly women and children, were allowed to leave on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, a bomb fell on the roof of an 81-year-old female church worker who is in charge of a church-run home for the elderly in Homs. She was not in the room at the time. Two bombs were also discovered in a church yard in the city; they did not explode.
One of our partners in Syria said:
The security status is alarming very much and mostly Christians fear what the present and near future is holding for them. Already people who have left their homes are not sure if they can go back to it.
Our Christian people say, “we know of what happened in Iraq and so we had better leave before we are killed.”
Following the fall of Saddam Hussein after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Christians became the target of Muslim extremists. The Christian community has been beset by kidnappings and killings, and many churches have been attacked. Consequently, hundreds of thousands of Christians have been forced to flee; many of them went to Syria.
The same pattern is now starting to emerge in Syria; al-Qaeda militants are believed to be coming into the country and killing Christians, and Christians are being kidnapped by Muslim groups.
With international pressure mounting on President Assad’s regime, the possibility of another Western military campaign in the Middle East is increasing.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said:
While I am relieved that the withdrawal of anti-government forces from Baba Amr provides the opportunity for a respite for some of the suffering residents of that city, I fear that the crisis in Syria is only going to intensify. Foreign military intervention could lead to a long and protracted war in which Christians, as perceived supporters of President Assad, would be particularly vulnerable; they are already suffering abuse and violence at the hands of the Free Syrian Army. Today we have a window of opportunity to alleviate the distress of the Christian families who have been trapped in Homs. Please help us to help them.
If you would like to help Christians affected by the crisis in Syria, please send your donation to the Middle East Fund (project 00-1032). using our secure server.
If you prefer to telephone, dial: 0800 587 4006 from within the UK or +44 1672 565031 from outside the UK. Please quote project reference Middle East Fund (project 00-1032).
If you prefer to send a cheque by post: Click this link for the address of our regional office. Please quote project reference Middle East Fund (project 00-1032).
For a quick donation of £3.00 by SMS (see terms and conditions here) text Barnabas/1032 to 70007 (Please note: This facility is presently only available to UK supporters).
- That humanitarian aid will quickly reach all those in need in Homs.
- That the Lord will grant wisdom to the international community so that they work to bring about a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria.
- For the Christians in Syria, that the Lord will protect them, provide for all their needs and keep them in His perfect peace as they trust in Him (Isaiah 26:3).