-- ZENIT.org News Agency
Syrian Orthodox and Catholics Appeal for Aid In Hassake
Local Bishops Appeal For Humanitarian Assistance in Eastern Syrian Town
HASSAKE, January 17, 2013 (Zenit.org) - A new report from Fides News Agency stated that the people Hassake, the capital of Mesopotamia located in Eastern Syria is suffering tremendously from cold weather, lack of fuel and water, and limited electricity. According to the report, over 25,000 Christians (Syrian Orthodox, Syrian Catholics, and Chaldean Armenians) have crowded the city, mainly seeking refuge from the ongoing conflict. Many have sent messages to Fides asking for aid.
Two months ago, an appeal was made by three regional Bishops who "launched an SOS to avoid catastrophe." The Bishops stated that "nothing has been done: no one cares for the exhausted population of Hassake, who urgently need humanitarian aid."
Syrian Catholic Bishop Jacques Behnan Hindo and Syrian Orthodox Bishop Matta Roham are intensifying efforts to contact other Christian Syrian leaders and humanitarian organizations, but the response they have received so far has been minimal. "It is impossible to bring aid to Hassake because it is too dangerous and lacks minimal security conditions," the Bishops stated.
Islamist groups and terrorists have occupied several areas of the region and have mposed several checkpoints on the roads. The "Jubhat el Nosra" militants were recently added by the United States to the black list of "terrorist groups". The area has also been overrun by common criminals who commit robbery, kidnapping, looting, even in the city. The population "is slowly dying, left to itself," Fr. Ibrahim, a Christian priest resident in Hassake told Fides.
"The people are hungry and living in fear," he continued. "Every day, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, there is a sort of curfew, because armed groups roam the streets. This is followed by kidnappings, sometimes with ransom demands, not always. In recent days, two brothers of the Bashr family and two young members of the Fram family were killed at point blank range on the street. Young Christians are threatened and terrified, 90% have fled the city. If young people leave, what will our churches be needed for? "
Georgius, a Christian university student whose family is in Hassake and has taken refuge in Lebanan told Fides that the "Jubhat el Nosra" militants have specifically targeted youth born between 1990 and 1992.
"They look for them, accuse them of being soldiers for the national service and kill them cold-bloodedly. They want to terrorize young people to prevent them from enlisting."
The population of HassakÚ are weary and tired. Georgius also stated that he fears a final assault on the city will "cause the definitive exodus of Christians from Hassake."
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