Ten Christian families were expelled from their village in Syria by armed militants as jihadists hijack the anti-government uprising and wreak havoc across the country.
The group seized control of Qastal al-Burg village, which is around 30 miles northwest of Hama, on 10 May. They ordered the ten Christian families who live there to leave empty-handed and took over their homes. The militants also occupied the village church, turning it into their command control centre.
A Barnabas Aid partner in Syria, with whom we are working to help Christians affected by the crisis, said that despite the UN’s peace-building efforts, armed groups have increased their activities. They have taken control of a number of Christian suburbs in Homs, establishing their own police centres and monitoring peoples’ movements. Churches have been damaged and, as the economy grinds to a halt, many people have not been paid for months or are without work altogether. Christians have been forced to flee, leaving their homes and possessions behind.
In brief the situation is very alarming and catastrophic. Syrians are scared of the escalation of violence to a point of no control and the absence of security in most areas.
According to official Syrian government figures, announced on Syrian TV on 5 May, 38% of the population is living on less than $2 a day. This compares with 24% two years ago. Unofficially it is estimated that the number living on less than $1 a day must now be between 14 % and 18%.
Barnabas Aid is helping at least 3,000 needy Christian families in Syria (approximately 15,000 people); we are providing food, medicine and other essentials through partners on the ground. You can help by sponsoring a Christian family for just £18 a month.
Jihadist elements with suspected links to al-Qaeda are now taking the conflict in Syria in a disturbing direction. It is believed that militants are entering the country from Iraq, and that they were responsible for a double suicide bomb attack in Damascus last week.
A group called the al-Nusra Front claimed responsibility for the attacks on 10 May, which left more than 50 people dead. It was the deadliest blast since the uprising began in March 2011. The group has also been behind other bombings across the country. Christian areas of Damascus and Aleppo were targeted in March.
As Islamists also gain political influence, with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters holding the most seats in the Syrian National Council, the main opposition group, Christians are concerned about their future in a country that was, before the uprising, one of the most safe and free places in the Arab world for their sizeable community.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Aid, said:
The crisis in Syria has taken a very sinister and worrying turn, with militant Islamists now wreaking havoc across the country. Syria is looking increasingly like Iraq, which has been beset by suicide bombings, and the Christian community lives in fear of the next attack. Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Syria, and if you are able, help us to meet their practical needs.
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- For all those who have been driven out of their homes by militant groups; pray that they will find refuge and be comforted in their distress.
- That the UN-brokered ceasefire will be honoured by both sides, and that Islamist militants will be restrained from committing further attacks.
- For Christians in Syria, who are in great need and fearful about their future. Pray that the Lord will give them His peace, protect them from harm and provide for their needs.
Source: Barnabas Aid