Aiding needy Syrian families

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By Murcadha O Flaherty
UP to 1,500 people fleeing violence and persecution in Syria are to receive emergency help – with many also gaining vocational training – thanks to fresh funding from a leading Catholic charity.
Aid to the Church in Need’s project for 342 displaced families in and around Damascus includes food and other urgent items as well as home repairs.
The £89,000 (€100,000) scheme, funded by Aid to the Church in Need UK, is coordinated by the Good Shepherd Sisters and is being rolled out over six months including winter, where the needs are greatest.
Recipients of the aid include:
• 85 families – vouchers for food and other urgent items
• 23 students – help with university and school costs
• Six families – vouchers for home repairs and maintenance
• 150 people – vocational training
So that the help goes to where the need is greatest, project coordinators set criteria prioritising aid for families displaced more than once, families where the breadwinner, for example the father, has been killed, families with large numbers of children, families with physical and mental disabilities and victims of religious persecution.
ACN UK’s backing for the project coincided with a visit to London by Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo, who has underlined the vital need to provide ongoing help for people in the bomb-blasted city.
Speaking at an event on Friday (4th November) hosted by ACN UK’s chaplain, Father Dominic Robinson, and held at Farm Street Church, run by the Jesuits in London’s Mayfair district, Archbishop Jeanbart described the “dreadful six-year siege” in Aleppo.
The archbishop recalled: “A week ago, 180 missiles… and bombs [fell] on west Aleppo where citizens live – 58 civilians were killed and more than 120 people were wounded.”
He added: “We do our best to get [the people] the necessary and bare minimum possible for food and security.”
The archbishop described his ‘Build to Stay’ programme which provides emergency help – food, shelter, heating and electricity, vocational programmes, counselling and drop-in centres.
Highlighting the importance of the scheme, which ACN is supporting, the archbishop said: “We have restored more than 260 houses and provided financial assistance for 65 young people to set up business and professional training for builders, carpenters, plumbers, electricians and so on [as well as] a centre for women”, comprising social activities and lectures.
At the event on Friday (4th November) and supported by ACN and L’Oeuvre D’Orient (Aid to Eastern Christians), the archbishop said that at least two-thirds of Christians had fled the city since the conflict began in 2011, with numbers down to as low as 50,000.
He added: “My faith has been purified. What I do, I do because I believe in Jesus Christ…
“I am living for him; I am working for him. I work in his business. I am just a clerk; I am just a worker in his camp.”
• Aid to the Church in Need UK is inviting people to take part in “Red Wednesday” – 23rd November when the facades of Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral and other religious buildings around the country will be lit up in red. Visit: The following day – Thursday, 24th November, Aid to the Church in Need’s Religious Freedom in the World 2016 report will be launched. For information, contact Murcadha O Flaherty on 020 8661 5175 or email:

Editor’s Notes

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 ACN Head of Press & Information John Pontifex on 020 8661 5161.


John Pontifex
Head of Press & Information

Aid to the Church in Need | UK
12 – 14 Benhill Avenue, Sutton, Surrey, SM1 4DA
TEL +44 (0)20 8661 5161 | MOB +44 781 559 1427 |