MIDDLE EAST: Million-pound aid package for the region’s suffering Christians

ACN project partner Sister Annie Demerjian with Lucine, aged 85, from Aleppo, Syria, and volunteer Fadi.
ACN project partner Sister Annie Demerjian with Lucine, aged 85, from Aleppo, Syria, and volunteer Fadi.

A leading Catholic charity has delivered a fresh £1million aid package offering a lifeline to suffering Christians in the Middle East.

Aid to the Church in Need announced today (Monday, 11th March) that during the first two months of 2019 it had paid out emergency relief and pastoral support for the Middle East including almost £750,000 for Syria and nearly £250,000 for Iraq.

Neville Kyrke-Smith, national director, Aid to the Church in Need (UK), who so far this year has made project trips to Egypt and Lebanon, said: “The scale of the charity’s help reflects the immense scale of suffering that we see across the region.

“As the apostle St Paul challenges us – we are called to help everyone in need, but especially those who are of the household of faith with us.”

ACN, which is funding these projects from money raised around the world, is helping the local Churches respond to the needs of suffering families in areas of northern Syria where reportedly there are more than 1.9 million internally displaced persons.

More than £500,000 has supported projects in Lattakia Governorate, including help for 690 families – covering the period January to June 2019 – and repairs to the Church of St Anthony the Great in Bakto, which was damaged during the conflict.

In Aleppo, the charity is providing more than £85,000 in emergency help for Christian families throughout the first half of 2019 – prioritising the elderly and the most vulnerable.

In Qaryatyan, in the Homs Governorate, the charity is supporting the Church’s programme providing medical aid to IDPs in the city.

Iraq aid includes funds given to the charity by Pope Francis from money raised by a lottery for a custom-built Lamborghini presented to the pontiff by the car’s manufacturers.

Part of the pope’s donation will fund a £94,000 package for the Christian village of Bashiqa, 18 miles (30 km) from the Nineveh Plains’ largest city, Mosul.

ACN-backed initiatives in the village include rebuilding St Reginald’s Convent, which belongs to the Dominican Sisters of St Catherine of Siena, and repairing a partially destroyed Church-run kindergarten.

Although Bashiqa was badly damaged during Daesh (ISIS)’s occupation of the Nineveh Plains, 405 of the 580 homes that were destroyed have been rebuilt and around 50 percent of the Christians that were displaced by the extremists (1,585 people) have returned.

Sister Samia give thanks to ACN benefactors for supporting projects across Syria.