Syria: 1m children sign appeal for peace

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By John Pontifex
MORE than one million children in Syria have been signing a petition calling for peace as part of a fresh appeal to political leaders to end the violence engulfing the country.
At least 2,000 schools from many parts of Syria are taking part in the initiative in which youngsters have been drawing pictures and writing messages for the attention of the United Nations in Geneva and the European Union in Brussels.
The Peace for Children scheme, organised with help from Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, involves children of all ages describing in words and pictures the impact of the five-year conflict for them and their loved ones.
The initiative was developed by the charity in response to reports that at least 2.1 million Syrian children are unable to attend school – with many education buildings evacuated or damaged because of the conflict.
Meantime, the Oxford Research Group reports that more than 11,500 children died in the first two years of the conflict alone.
Aid to the Church in Need project partners including Aleppo-based Sister Annie Demerjian have stressed the number of traumatised children, with many experiencing violence, sexual exploitation, abduction and the loss of loved ones.
This week, children of all denominations in the capital, Damascus, as well as in Homs, Yabroud, Marmarita as well as Aleppo have been taking part in the Peace for Children initiative with songs, dances, drama and prayer, all calling for peace.
The youngsters – who include many Muslims – have been writing messages to the global community on white balloons, slogans such as “We want peace”, “Give us our childhood”, “We don’t want any more war” and “We want to go to school”.
Children have been invited to tell their own personal story of suffering.
Sister Annie told ACN: “When a child talks about losing his father, for example, we will follow it up by praying for all children who have lost parents or siblings.”
Speaking to the charity from Damascus, she said: “The response of the young people to the Prayer for Children initiative has been amazing and we are working hard to get their messages and drawings packaged up so they can go out to those in Europe who can help us.”
Since the conflict in Syria began in March 2011, ACN has provided food, clean water, heating (oil and electricity), clothes, medicine and shelter for victims irrespective of their religion.
The charity has prioritised help for children by, for example, providing baby food.
ACN has provided £11.4 million (€13 million EUR) in emergency aid for Syria since 2011.
• ACN Syria project partner Sister Annie Demejian of Aleppo will be coming to the UK next week for Aid to the Church in Need events in the North-West, Scotland and London. For information visit For all media inquiries, contact John Pontifex 0781 559 1427.

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.

Mr Murcadha O Flaherty
Press & Digital Media Officer

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