• Most families surviving on less than £1.60 a day
By Murcadha O Flaherty
AS life-threatening poverty has left Syria’s war-torn families struggling to buy food, a leading Catholic charity has responded with much needed help.
Working with local Church leaders, Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need has announced fresh support for thousands who are at risk of starvation.
The cost of living has spiralled upward – since the war’s outbreak the price of wheat flour has increased by 300 percent and rice by 650 percent.
Father Andrzej Halemba, ACN’s Middle East project head described an “appalling daily struggle to buy food” endured by Christians and others.
With nearly two thirds of families in Syria living on less than £1.60 a day, and the remaining third in even worse hardship, thousands of families have fallen into debt just to get the money they need to buy food.
But a new package announced by ACN today will provide food aid – as well as other vital supplies including medicine – for 3,000 families in the country.
The charity’s UK office has provided more than £92,000 to help widows, victims of the war, young people who have lost their jobs, and families in particular need.
Sister Lolita Houssein of the Good Shepherds Sisters, who are overseeing the project, said: “Today Syrian citizens are struggling to survive after their livelihoods were destroyed during the last six years of conflict.”
She stressed the scale of the food problem saying that around half of Syria’s families have reduced the number of daily meals from three to one or two.
Sister Houssein added that the problem was worsened by the job shortage caused by the conflict.
She said: “The unemployment percentage among young people is estimated to be 78 percent and many suffer from fear, isolation and uncertainty about what the future holds.”
Sister Annie Demerjian of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary and her team of volunteers are also helping more than 2,000 displaced families in Hassake and Aleppo.
They make monthly visits to the families, bringing food baskets and other essential aid backed by ACN.
Sister Demerjian said: “Every time we visit one of the families we ask them to pray for those who have contributed and are still contributing to ease their suffering, and it is beautiful is to see their open hands thanking God and thanking you for your brotherly love.”
Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director of ACN UK said: “We continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Syria in their seventh year of terrible suffering and great need.
“The generosity of our benefactors is fulfilling the resurrected Christ’s own words to ‘feed my lambs’ [John 21:15] in the consoling love and help they are providing.”
He added: “Our thanks to the Good Shepherd Sisters, Sister Annie, her volunteers and all in the Church who are helping those suffering because of war and persecution for their faith.”
Aid to the Church in Need is a Pontifical Foundation directly under the Holy See. As a Catholic charity, ACN supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in need through information, prayer, and action.
Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope St John Paul II named “An outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in 140 countries throughout the world.
Undertaking thousands of projects every year, the charity provides emergency support for people experiencing persecution, transport for clergy and lay Church workers, Child’s Bibles, media and evangelisation projects, churches, Mass stipends and other support for priests and nuns and training for seminarians.
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 and another office based in Lancaster that covers the North-West.
Please always acknowledge Aid to the Church in Need as the source when using our material.
For more information, contact Senior Press Officer Dr John Newton on 020 8661 5167 or ACN Press and Digital Media Officer Murcadha O Flaherty on 020 8661 5175.