Syria – ACN Embarks on Reconstruction Programme in Aleppo

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is sponsoring 32 new projects in Syria, at a total cost of AUD $2.9 million, for the restoration of the material and spiritual life of the Christian population there.

  • Children, women and the sick will be among the first to benefit from the aid programmes
  • Three cathedrals are included in the seven reconstruction projects happening in Aleppo

    Image: A man praying amid the ruins of the Armenian Catholic cathedral.© Ismael Martinez Sanchez / Aid to the Church in Need

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The programme of reconstruction and restoration is taking place in Aleppo one of the cities that has suffered most from the consequences of the war. Among the seven projects for the physical reconstruction of the city there are three involving Catholic cathedrals, namely the Armenian, Maronite and Syrian Catholic cathedrals. These three cathedrals not only represent the riches of the Eastern Rites in Aleppo, but are at the same time a symbol of the Christian roots of the city.

Image: Rooftops of the Armenian Catholic Cathedral in the Al-Telal district. © Ismael Martinez Sanchez / Aid to the Church in Need

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“The churches are like lighthouses in the ocean; they are a source of security and hope, and are one of the first steps towards encouraging the return of the uprooted Christians here – as ACN well knows, having been so involved in the reconstruction of the towns and villages destroyed by IS in Iraq”, emphasises Father Andrzej Halemba, who heads the project section responsible for Syria at the international headquarters of the foundation. Last year ACN also sponsored the reconstruction of the Melkite Catholic Cathedral in Homs. 

In addition to supporting two parish community centres and a bible study centre, ACN has promised help to complete the renovation work on a centre for autistic children which has been run by Franciscan missionary sisters for the past 21 years. The building is very damp due to the breakdown of the heating system during the war, and poses a real danger to the health of the 15 children cared for daily there.

Image: The "La Source" Center cares for autistic children and is run by the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary in Aleppo. © Ismael Martinez Sanchez / Aid to the Church in Need

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All this is being done on top of the ongoing aid programmes for the hundreds of displaced families that ACN has been supporting from the very beginning of the conflict in 2011 in Aleppo and in other cities such as Homs and Latakia. “Although we would like these families to be able to return to their homes and be able to begin a new life, there is still a good deal to be done in order to make this possible. Meanwhile we cannot cut off our aid, since the local churches cannot take on this burden. According to UNHCR some 13.1 million people in Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance today. “Those who are suffering most are the poorest”, Father Halemba explains. That is why ACN will be spending two thirds of the AUD $2.92 million allocated on renewed emergency aid packages. These will include among other things paying the rent for 340 families in Homs, providing medical assistance for around 700 people in Aleppo and a monthly allowance for food and healthcare over the next six months for 1,725 of the poorest families in Latakia.

Image: Daily cost distribution for the needy families at the Greek Orthodox Church MJO (Orthodox Youth Movement). © Ismael Martinez Sanchez / Aid to the Church in Need

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Along with these 32 projects recently approved, the number of projects that the international foundation ACN is carrying out in Syria in 2018 now totals 121 valued at almost AUD $11.39 million.

“The suffering is not over yet!”, Father Halemba insists. “We face massive challenges simply in easing the terrible wounds inflicted over the past eight years, and at the same time we cannot forget that the future of these people lies in our hands and that we have a responsibility towards them.”

Image: Reconstruction of old quarter of Homs © Ismael Martinez Sanchez / Aid to the Church in Need

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Prayer Points:

We pray for peace in Syria and the Middle East.
We pray for those that are poor and disabled that they get the assitance and support that they need.
We thank God for the generosity of those who have given to this campaign.
We pray the reconstructed Churches and other buildings will be a place of hope and healing for all those affected by war.

Lord hear us.
Lord graciously hear us.

You can help ACN to rebuild Syria by donating to Aid to the Church in Need.

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