In nine years of civil war, some 522,000 people have died in Syria thus far. Almost twelve million people have been displaced, two-thirds of the total population of the country. 6.7 million of these are internally displaced persons and 5.3 million are housed in camps in neighbouring countries or have left for Europe. Particularly tragic: around one million children have become orphans as a result of the war, many of whom are of the Christian faith. In addition to numerous other aid projects, ACN is therefore particularly committed to the Christian children and youth in Syria.
The Syrian Christians were hit hardest by the civil war. Of the 1.5 million who lived in the country before the war, only a third are still in the country. The Emeritus Patriarch of the Greek Melkite Catholic Church, Gregory III Laham, summarises the situation with these words: “We are martyrs because we are witnesses of Christ.” Despite all the hardship, the remaining 500,000 Christians would like to stay in their homeland. ACN is helping them. 7.6 million euros went to Christians in Syria last year. Of this sum, 3.5 million euros were devoted directly to charitable aid, such as food parcels.
Only a few families can afford basic foods like milk.
One of the projects close to the heart of ACN is the relief action “A Drop of Milk”. For in Syria, only a few families can afford to buy basic foods. ACN has supported this campaign for Christian families in the war-torn city On the way to St Peter’s Aid Centre in Marmarita. At the distribution point of the relief campaign “A Drop of Milk”. of Aleppo for four years. In 2019, we provided 240,000 euros to this project alone.
A further focus of our aid to Syria involves new construction and reconstruction projects. The cost of construction aid has risen rapidly during the war. Nevertheless, this is a good sign. For habitable houses and flats are long-lasting and promise a brighter future. In total, 500 houses and flats have already been renovated with the help of ACN. Our foundation provided 1 million euros in 2019 and the project will continue in 2020. But education also stands for hope and a better future.
In the Middle East conflict, it is the key to a non-violent coexistence of opposing convictions and therefore the basis for a peaceful life together. Christians in the Middle East attach importance to a good education. Not only because it offers them better chances on the job market, but also because Christians who attend university avoid being drafted into the army.
Education is the best ground to cultivate understanding and peace.
But education costs money. Together with ten Christian churches, ACN launched an ambitious programme in Aleppo last year. Under the motto “Praying plus studying” 7,340 students received 20 euros per month for eight months (one academic year). In addition to the aid money, the programme also provides for student counselling and spiritual guidance.
Support for children in Aleppo
Violence. Hunger. Trauma. The suffering and misery of children in the Syrian war knows no bounds, especially in the completely bombed-out city of Aleppo. One of the initiatives ACN is promoting there is “Let Me Live My Childhood”. This initiative is designed to help children between the ages of 3 and 15 develop their skills and rediscover their needs in a spirit of unity and mutual support. We already sponsored the project in 2018 and were able to help 400 children once again last year. With a budget of 13,000 euros, we covered the costs of transport, food, sweaters, inpatient care and entrance fees for recreational activities, including outings to the swimming pool and cinema.