“The fruits of your love are a consolation to us”

Despite the ceasefire, life for the Christians of Aleppo remains difficult – Aid to the Church in Need is now supporting a project intended to help improve day-to-day life


Father Ibrahim
Father Ibrahim

The conflict in Syria entered its sixth year in March. The ceasefire and the talks in Geneva between the warring parties have for the first time given rise to a glimmer of hope that the perishing of hundreds of thousands of people may soon come to an end.

However, real security and peace remain non-existent for the people in the contested city of Aleppo. Father Ibrahim, a Franciscan priest who works in the Roman Catholic parish there, talked about it in an interview with Aid to the Church in Need. “Even though there is a lot of talk about the ceasefire at the moment, the bombing just recently started up again in those parts of Aleppo that are controlled by the regular army. And that is exactly where the Christians of Aleppo live.” However, Father Ibrahim does not despair. “Let us thank the Lord for the positive things that are happening and let us hope that the ceasefire, which is at least honoured by a part of the militias and armed groups, may last.”

Years of hardship have left deep scars

However, Father Ibrahim believes that even if the guns were to fall completely silent, everyday life would continue to be anything but easy for the people. “The situation of our families in Aleppo is simple to explain. Of all the families in Syrian cities, the families in Aleppo are worst off,” he said. And calculated aloud: “According to a recently held survey, every family in Aleppo needs 17,000 Syrian pounds. This is the minimum required to buy the essentials: electricity, water and gas.” But there are people who do not even have this. “Of our 600 families, more than 250 live in extreme poverty with a monthly income of less than 25,000 Syrian pounds.” According to Father Ibrahim, this means that they are not able to buy food in an amount sufficient to be commensurate with human dignity. In many cases, the consequences are devastating. “Fifteen of our parishioners were recently admitted to hospital and required several litres of blood transfusions because they were about to die of malnutrition and its consequences.”



According to Father Ibrahim, all but few are suffering hardships. “Our data tells us that, of the 600 families in our Latin parish, only five families are really well off, while the rest live on the poverty line. Further, most of those who used to be well off have become poor during the five years of war and are now openly asking for help.” The years of hardship have left deep scars. “It is striking to see people who were industrialists earning hundreds of thousands of dollars and who have now become destitute. They have lost their offices and their companies with all of the machines. All they have left are bank debts that they cannot pay.”

In addition to malnutrition, there are also other supply problems. “Electricity is one of our greatest problems. Electricity is only available in homes via the electric generators of private companies that sell the ‘ampere’ at inflated prices,” he complains. “A family or even a single person needs at least two amperes to operate just two or three lamps or a television or a radio. Two amperes are not even enough to operate a washing machine or a pump in those rare instances when water is available. Two amperes are the minimum needed by a poor person or a poor family.” With any less, Father Ibrahim said, you are sitting in the dark. “As we have already observed in many cases, this has caused a lot of people to suffer from a number of psychological disorders and desperation.”


Project: Two Amperes for Every Family

Families with children are especially hard hit by the lack of electricity. “A family with school children or children at a higher-level school or university cannot live without electricity since the children cannot do their homework or study without it. This is why we thought about helping the poor families who have stayed here, either because they feel a connection to their country or because a lack of money made it impossible for them to flee. We want to help them live in dignity.” To achieve this, Father Ibrahim initiated the “Project Two Amperes for Every Family”. “This is our contribution towards covering the minimal expenditures of a family. It is a form of aid that is also of psychological value and represents an expression of solidarity.”

Aid to the Church in Need has supported the project for Aleppo’s Christians with donations from various countries.

Father Ibrahim is already grateful to the benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need. “Even if the missile strikes scare us, make our hearts heavy and sadden us, the fruits of your love are a consolation to us. In the name of the Christians of Aleppo, and especially in the name of the Latin parish and the Franciscans of Aleppo, I send you the best wishes for a Holy Path of Conversion to the Father, who is full of mercy.”

By Oliver Maksan, ACN International
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada



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