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Syrian Christians who have survived kidnapping by IS struggle to return to their homes – will you help?

14 September 2018

“If we want to get married, there are no girls left,” said Nabil, a Christian man living with his 65-year-old mother in north-eastern Syria. No one else lives in their village now. Some 10,000 Christians used to inhabit 35 villages along the Khabur River. But many have fled. Those who remain are in desperate need, as are those who are coming back to their villages. As peace and stability return to Syria, will you help these brave survivors rebuild their lives?

Taken hostage by Islamic State

It was back in February-March 2015 that Islamic State (IS) terrorists raided this string of Christian villages, taking hostage about 250 Christians and holding them in atrociously cramped and insanitary conditions for months. Freezing cold or sweltering hot, some were held in rooms so crowded that they had to take turns to lie down. Some hostages were killed but, thanks be to God, the others were gradually set free.

These Syrian Christians from the Khabur River villages were released after nine months in captivity. After release hostages have nothing but the clothes they wear and are often sick or debilitated

Those released, often sick and debilitated from their time in captivity, had nothing but the clothes they were wearing. Their homes had been looted and some of them occupied by IS fighters, who would not allow the owners back.

Barnabas Fund stepped in to provide emergency basic humanitarian needs for the released hostages, starting with a group of 37 elderly people, who arrived by bus at the village of Tel Tamar, just across the river from Nabil’s village, on 7 November 2015. Over that winter we helped a total of 131 released hostages with food, clothes, medical treatment and rent.

After their release by Islamic State, these 37 elderly Christians went home to ruined, deserted villages in north-eastern Syria

And now?

Three years on, what is their situation? Christians are struggling to return home. Their villages are almost deserted – some are completely empty. The few inhabitants, traumatised by their ordeal as hostages, include many elderly, weak and vulnerable. One village is populated by five men who have pledged themselves to guard the ruins of their church building, destroyed by IS.

“Just keep the evil people away from us,” says Nabil’s mother, recalling her days of captivity, “We don’t ask anything else from God.” Yet, these Christians need more. Struggling to survive in the deserted villages, longing and hoping for other believers to come back and join them, especially young people, they need practical help.

Through Barnabas Fund, you can give a practical gift to encourage and build them up as they faithfully maintain a Christian presence and witness along the Khabur River.

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If you would like to make a gift, please direct your donation to 00-1032: Middle East Fund to help Christians in Syria

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