Bishop Audo at his church in Aleppo in October 2009.Matthieu Alexandre/Secours Catholique
Chaldean Catholic Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo in Syria and head of Caritas Syria has been in France for meetings with Secours Catholique (Caritas France). He spoke to François Tcherkessoff. Here is an edited version of the interview (translated by Caritas Internationalis).
What does the Church leadership say about the recent events?
The three patriarchs of Damascus from the Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Syrian churches urge dialogue, an end to the violence, a reform of the State to allow greater freedom, democratic elections. Some Christians fear the unknown with the possible rise of religious fundamentalism as in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt and so defend the regime. Continue reading
Caritas Jordan volunteers packing aid for Syrian refugees in at the Caritas centre in Mafraq. Photo by Caritas Jordan.
By Caritas Internationalis and Caritas Jordan staff
“I like to help others,” said Madleen Qandah, a 21 years old mathematics student in Mafraq. She is volunteering with Caritas Jordan as it aids Syrian refugees fleeing violence in their own country. “I just put myself in the refugees’ shoes and treat them how I would like to be treated in the same situation,” she said.
Around 500 refugees arrive a day in Jordan according to various relief agencies. The Jordanian government says the number of Syrian refugees in the country has surpassed 110,000 people.
The influx of Syrians is putting huge pressures on the Jordanian economy and housing capacity. The country is also hosting 450,000 Iraqi refugees according to the government, who fled the conflict in Iraq that began in 2003.
Working mainly in Mafraq, Caritas Jordan teams have provided 500 families with aid such as heaters, bedding, towels, plastic mats, sanitary pads, jerry cans, milk, school and kits, hygienic kits and food since December 2011. Continue reading
Conditions are difficult for Syrian refugees, water covers the floors of basic appartments, employment is not permitted and there is a lack of basics like nappies and other personal hygiene equipment.
Photos by Patrick Nicholson/Caritas. Photos by Patrick Nicholson/Caritas
By Patrick Nicholson
Syrian refugees continue to flee into neighbouring Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. They’re trying to escape fighting between government and opposition forces that began last March. Caritas members in the region are looking to respond to the growing needs of the refugees.
Living conditions are difficult. Hamid* brought his wife and children from Tal Kalakh in Syria to Wadi Khaled just across the border in northern Lebanon as soon as fighting started in March 2011. He said he feared that the situation would go from “bad to very bad” because of sectarianism and thought it safer to leave while he could.
His family of six have lived for six months in one of the rooms of an old abandoned school building. Fifteen families live in the school. The rooms are tiny, damp and cold. His wife couldn’t cope so she went home at one point. “I would have preferred to die in Syria than live like this,” she said. She returned because she missed her children.
They have a three-month-old baby. The family receive food and medical help, but they need money for nappies and milk. Hamid is resigned to his fate. He will not go back until the situation in Syria changes, but he doesn’t hold out hope of a fast solution. Continue reading