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Desperate humanitarian crisis engulfs displaced Syrian Christians

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Desperate humanitarian crisis engulfs displaced Syrian Christians

Project(s): 00-1032

Country/Region: Middle East and North Africa, Syria

We have used the terminology ‘appalling’, ‘desperate’ and ‘deplorable’. We have run out of language to describe how it is for the civilian population.

John Ging, operations director for the UN’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

My heart goes out to the countless numbers of our brothers and sisters in Syria who have been reduced to homelessness and poverty by the present conflict. Within their own country they are in grave peril, and they may be unable to find security anywhere else. They have no-one to turn to for help except their worldwide Christian family.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Aid

Disturbing new reports from Syria have revealed the desperate humanitarian needs both within the country and on its borders, heightening concerns for its vulnerable and beleaguered Christian community.

This Christian orphanage in Homs was badly damaged in the fighting
This Christian orphanage in Homs was badly damaged in the fighting

Aid agencies are struggling to deal with an ever-growing number of refugees fleeing into neighbouring countries, as well as a large number of internally displaced people trying to get away from the fighting between government and opposition forces.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported on 20 July that around 120,000 Syrian refugees have now registered with it. But it acknowledges that the real number is undoubtedly much greater, and expects the total to reach 200,000-250,000 in the foreseeable future.

The agency says that an average of 700 people a day are crossing the borders into Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey, though some of these countries put the figures much higher. Many are women and children, and have nothing with them except the clothes they are wearing. Large numbers are living in hotels or makeshift shelters, and are in urgent need of food, blankets and medical care.

One of the aid organisations active on the ground estimates that between 1 and 1.5 million Syrians have been forced to migrate within the country. There are thousands in the capital, Damascus, many lodging in schools, while local parks have been turned into camps for them.

The UN has launched two appeals, for $189 million to support aid to civilians inside Syria and $193 million for Syrian refugees. But both appeals are falling short by 75-80%, and the UN has warned that it may have to cut back its operations.

Christians in peril

As Syria implodes into chaos and civil war, its large but endangered Christian minority has been caught up in the growing crisis of displacement and poverty.

Tens of thousands of Christians have been driven from their cities by threats and violence. Almost the entire Christian populations of Homs and Qusayr have fled to surrounding villages or further afield. Many Christian families have seen their homes occupied and their lives torn apart by the conflict. They are in urgent need of food and other essentials.

The opposition forces and the militant groups that support them are largely hostile to Christians, believing them to be supporters of the government. An Islamist takeover is likely to generate further violence against Christians. Some believe that they have no alternative but to leave the country to avoid persecution or even death.

But few if any havens remain for them in the region. Turkey and Iraq are inhospitable places for Christians, and they have only restricted freedoms in Jordan. Even in Lebanon, once a Christian stronghold, the churches are beset by a powerful and confident Islamist movement.

Barnabas Aid is helping displaced Christian families within Syria and in other countries, with food, medicine, money for rent and other essentials. You can help by sponsoring a Christian family for just £18 a month.

Give Today

If you would like to help Christians affected by the crisis in Syria, please send a to the Middle East Fund to help Christians in Syria (project 00-1032) or a of £18 a month 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 to help Christians in Syria (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 to help Christians in Syria (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).

Please Pray:
  • For all refugees and internally displaced people in Syria, that emergency aid will reach them quickly and that their needs will be met
  • For Christians who have been driven from their homes or fled the country altogether, that the Lord will be a sanctuary for them and that their distress will be relieved
  • For an end to the fighting in Syria and that its people will soon be able to return home
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Daily prayer

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  • Pray for Barnabas Aid partners in South Sudan who have been supporting Christians forced from their homes by violence. Conflict between supporters of President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar in December and January displaced around 860,000 people. Churches were burned down and a number of pastors killed, while many people lost their belongings and were left destitute. Give thanks that churches in and around the capital, Juba, were able to provide food and other essentials to many families with help from Barnabas. Pray that they may continue to be salt and light in their country at this unstable time (Matthew 5:13-16), and that it will soon be safe for displaced Christians to return home. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 13 hours ago

  • Pray for the residents of a mainly Christian village in Borno state, Northern Nigeria, in the aftermath of a horrific attack by Boko Haram militants on 15 February. Ask for God’s comfort for the relatives and friends of the 106 people in Izghe who were gunned down and slaughtered in their houses or in the open as they tried to flee. Pray for strength for the numerous residents who were wounded or whose properties were looted and torched. Pray too for the many Christians who fled into the neighbouring state after the attack, and ask that the Christian community in the North of Nigeria will be preserved in the face of Islamist violence. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Violent attacks by militants from the Islamist group Boko Haram continue unabated in Northern Nigeria. On one horrendous day of violence on 26 January, at least 138 people were killed. A church in Wada Chakawa village in Adamawa state was targeted; the attackers locked the congregation inside and then detonated bombs, shooting and cutting the throats of people who tried to escape. They then went on a four-hour rampage in the village. Later the same day, Kawuri village in neighbouring Borno state was burned to the ground. Boko Haram is fighting to establish an Islamic state, and Christians are among its main targets. Pray that the Nigerian authorities will succeed in containing its insurgency. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give You thanks on this Easter Day for the living hope that You have given us and all Your people through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). We pray that the prospect of an enduring inheritance and future salvation will encourage our persecuted brothers and sisters to persevere in their faith, whatever may happen to them. We pray that we too may be sustained by this hope in the sufferings that we experience for the sake of Christ. We ask that the joy and resurrection power of the Lord will give strength and peace to persecuted believers today and every day. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Give thanks for the Christ-like responses of Christian leaders in CAR to the crisis that threatens them and their churches. They have distanced themselves from the anti-balaka militias, saying that these should not be labelled as Christian and that they hold no mandate from the churches. The leaders have also condemned the violence in the country, whatever its origin, and have called on Christians to pursue forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. Churches are hiding, defending and caring for thousands of Muslims endangered by the anti-balaka, and one of CAR’s most senior church leaders has invited the president of the country’s Islamic community to move into his church compound. Pray that this powerful witness to the grace and love of Christ will help to bring peace to the shattered country. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Apr 2014 00:00

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