By Clare Creegan
PEOPLE under constant threat of bombardment in the Syrian city of Aleppo will receive a fresh emergency relief package in the latest round of aid payments announced by the UK arm of Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.
At least 5,000 people – 1,300 families – in Aleppo and Hassake, both in northern Syria, are in line for a six months’ supply of gas, electricity, water and rent – all desperately needed amid a deepening infrastructure crisis caused by growing conflict in the area.
The £187,000 aid package will be coordinated by Sister Annie Demerjian, a long-standing ACN project partner, who leads a team of people who have assessed the needs of thousands of people in the area.
Aid to the Church in Need (UK) is rolling out 25 projects this month including two for Lebanon – help for 11 major seminarians in Batrun diocese and a programme of pastoral activities for refugee women supported by the Good Shepherd Sisters in Ain Saade.
In Africa, ACN is helping to build a new church for a parish in Cameroon, there is another church for the Mutti Dekia region of Ethiopia and an educational and retreat centre for Butare, Rwanda.
Elsewhere in Africa, ACN is providing emergency relief – rice and maze – for people in Malawi, support for 13 major seminarians in Bossangoa diocese, Central African Republic and preparation work for a new chapel for religious Sisters in Kampala diocese, Uganda.
In Bangladesh ACN is supporting deacons with prayer books and India where ACN is building a new convent, with another on the way in Digos diocese, Philippines.
In Georgia, ACN is helping with the living costs of 14 religious Sisters and in Ukraine, the charity is helping the Latin Diocese of Kharkiv-Zaporizhzhya with a new church.
Just back from Syria, John Pontifex, ACN UK Head of Press and Information, said: “Against a backdrop of enormous suffering which we saw for ourselves, ACN’s help is a great consolation – and we were told this again and again by bishops, priests, Sisters, young and old who gave us words of thanks to be passed on to the charity’s wonderful benefactors.
“As one priest in Homs told me: ‘Our tears are not only tears of sadness, they are tears of joy that someone has heard our cries and come to help us.’ ”
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom St John Paul II named “An outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in more than 140 countries throughout the world.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 176 languages and more than 51 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
Aid to the Church in Need UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1097984) and Scotland (SC040748). ACN’s UK office is in Sutton, Surrey and there is a Scottish office in Motherwell, near Glasgow.
For more information, contact John Newton, ACN Press Officer, 020 8661 5167 or Clare Creegan, Digital Media and Press Officer on 020 8661 5175.