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Calling for a political solution to the crisis, Syrian priest fears the coming winter

9/26/2013 - 10:39 AM PST

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Calling for a political solution to the crisis, Syrian priest fears the coming winter

NEW YORK, NY (September 26, 2013) The conflict in Syria can only be solved politically, not by military means: that is the firm conviction of Syrian Jesuit Father Ziad Hilal.

"The use of weapons will not stop the bloodshed in Syria. In this I disagree with America and France. Rather the international community must work towards a peaceful solution and convene an international peace conference. In Syria itself the government and opposition must start a dialogue. The arms deliveries must also be stopped, as must the infiltration of Syria by jihadists from all over world,” the Jesuit told Aid to the Church in Need, an international Catholic charity.

Father Ziad heads a social center in the ancient Syrian town of Homs. It provides medical, psychological and other charitable services and is located in an area controlled by government troops. The center supports some 6000 families from Homs and the surrounding area. Hilal is assisted by some 100 volunteers.

"Time and again there are fights between the Free Syrian Army and government troops. Recently a bomb fell very close by. Fortunately nothing happened to our secretary, but her home was destroyed."

Of the 120,000 Christians who used to live in the city, 6,000 have left the city and fled to other areas in Syria or in neighboring countries. The historical city center is in the hands of the rebels and it has been almost completely abandoned, Father Ziad reported. His superior has given him permission to leave the city, but he has chosen to stay: "If we go, who will then serve the people?"

Hilal is eyeing the third winter of the war with trepidation. "We are afraid of the winter. We need everything to get our people through the winter: heating oil, clothing and blankets. I appeal to our fellow Christians in Europe and the US not to forget us,” he said.

"I'm very much afraid that the exodus will continue. The Christians are an integral part of this country, its culture and history. But if there is not a major change in the situation, it will soon look here like in Iran or Turkey. Those countries also had once flourishing Christian communities of which hardly anything is left now. May God spare Syrian Christians the same fate,” the Jesuit concluded.

Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org

Keywords

Syria, Winter, Syrian Christians, Homs

Category

International Archdiocese & Diocese

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